“Boorish rabble!”: Kaczyński insulted the opposition parties in the Sejm
Kaczyński's outburst of 4 June 2020 has a political dimension and may be harmful to President Duda’s campaign
By Michał Danielewski
It was supposed to be a ritual debate on a vote of no confidence in the Minister of Health, Łukasz Szumowski. Ritual, because PiS has the majority so it can reject the motion. It was only voting that was left when the PiS chairman, Jarosław Kaczyński, started to insult the opposition MPs.
It seemed as if all the parliamentary emotions on 4 June 2020 were exhausted by the afternoon debate on the vote of confidence for Mateusz Morawiecki’s government. The motion for the vote suddenly submitted by the prime minister actually became an election rally for Andrzej Duda: the head of the government praised the president and rebuked the opposition from the rostrum, accusing it of “provoking”, “inciting” and “stirring”.
However, the head of Law and Justice, Jarosław Kaczyński, gave a new dose of emotions just before midnight, simultaneously correcting the prime minister’s words, deciding to present what “peace at the top”, which is PiS’ latest idea for Andrzej Duda’s election campaign, is supposed to be, based on his own example. Kaczyński called the opposition a “rabble”.
Opposition MP Barbara Nowacka (Koalicja Obywatelska – KO), clearly moved by Chairman Kaczyński’s words, responded. And she started: “I have heard about how the chairman is better several times, when he entered that cemetery which I couldn’t enter.” Nowacka’s mother MP Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka was one of the victims of airplane crash in Smoleńsk in 2010. Then President of Poland Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria were also among the victims.
Nowacka alluded to a much publicized visit of Jarosław Kaczyński to Powązki Cementery in Warsaw on the crash’s 10th anniversary on 10 April 2020, when cemeteries in Poland were closed due to COVID-19-motivated restrictions on public gatherings.
Nowacka: “I have the impression that Chairman Kaczyński called us a rabble”
The motion for the vote of no confidence against Szumowski was filed by the members of the Civic Coalition (Koalicja Obywatelska – KO). The allegations against the minister apply to unclear situations described by the media at the point where the ministry of health and a businessman acquainted with the minister meet (this applies to an order for protective masks work several million zlotys, which did not meet the safety standards), as well as multi-million zloty grants from the Scientific Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR) for the research company run by Szumowski’s brother, which were awarded to him, among others, at a time when Szumowski was the deputy minister of science to whom the NCBiR reports.
Speaking in his own defence, Szumowski stated that the opposition is taking advantage of media that is producing fake news about him. He mentioned four media: TVN, Wyborcza, Newsweek and OKO.press.
KO’s motion was being justified by MP Barbara Nowacka. When she started to speak, the head of the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska – PO) party, Borys Budka, drew the attention of the Deputy Speaker of the Sejm, Ryszard Terlecki, to the behaviour of the PiS deputies: Nowacka was speaking, while Jarosław Kaczyński and the deputy prime minister and the minister of culture, Piotr Gliński, were standing with their backs towards her and were talking in the government benches. When Terlecki did not react, Budka went up to the podium and called on Kaczyński and Gliński to sit down and listen. “This is not your own property, Mr. Chairman,” he called out while he was returning to his seat.
Gliński aggressively replied to Budka that the vote of no confidence was “pure audacity and scandalous.” Terlecki did not react, he focused all his attention on Budka, ordering him to take his seat.
Confusion arose in the parliamentary room. However, the tension was already subsiding when Jarosław Kaczyński shouted to the opposition deputies from behind the government benches:
“There has never been such a boorish rabble in this Sejm!”
Gliński tried to cover up or even stop Kaczyński, but the words reached the opposition MPs. Voices were raised: “What is this supposed to be?” “He should apologise.” Terlecki did not react. He was still only addressing the opposition MPs.
“Please stop causing a row and sit still” – repeated Terlecki.
“Mr. Speaker, I have the impression that MP Kaczyński just called us a rabble”, said Nowacka sententially.
Nowacka: How dare he insult me
Deputy Marshal Terlecki ordered a five-minute break. When the session resumed, Barbara Nowacka again entered the podium, still clearly moved by Kaczyński’s words. However, she demonstrated a political reflection by positioning Kaczyński’s outburst of contempt in a broader context:
“Mr. Speaker, I have heard about how the chairman is better several times, when he entered that cemetery which I couldn’t enter because then his pain was greater than mine.”
At the same cemetery where my mother, a victim of the Smolensk disaster, is buried. But he went in, laid flowers for his mother and his brother, while others could not. And now, today, he dares to insult me!
We can see, once again, what PiS is. A new solidarity is developing among the people, those who supported the sick, those who sewed masks, and PiS once again showed us its cash cow change.
The arrogance we saw here in the hall, corruption, nepotism, these are your names, the new elite from PiS!”
At this point, Terlecki switched off Nowacka’s microphone.
This is not the first time that Jarosław Kaczyński was abusive to the opposition.
A similar episode took place on 18 July 2017 at 23:47, at a time when tens of thousands of Poles were protesting in the streets against the authority’s attack on the Supreme Court. The PiS leader shouted 30 words from the parliamentary rostrum.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Speaker, this is without a procedure. I know you’re afraid of the truth, but don’t wipe your treacherous mugs with the memory of my brother. You destroyed him, you murdered him, you are scoundrels.”
Jarosław Kaczyński also once attacked Agnieszka Pomaska from the PO party. During the blockade of the parliamentary rostrum by the opposition on 16 December 2016, he shouted to her “Go to hell”, and several hours later, he took her mobile phone and threw it on the ground.
This may hurt Duda
Kaczyński’s outburst of 4 June 2020 has a political dimension and may be harmful to President Duda’s campaign.
In the light of the weakening support for Andrzej Duda, the Law and Justice party has placed all its money on one horse, building the image of the head of state as a guarantor of “peace at the top” and of silencing political emotions. PiS’ slogan says that, after Duda’s re-election, there will be harmony and, instead of arguing, the politicians will work for the good of the Poles.
Kaczyński’s insults of the opposition are destroying this image, because they are proving, black on white, that the leader of the camp in power has a contemptuous attitude towards the opposition – and that part of the public that objects to PiS rule. According to the PiS chairman’s idea, “peace at the top” will only be possible if the opposition does not oppose the right-wing populists ruling in Poland. In other words, when it stops being an opposition.