Marek Jurek is a conservative MEP. In 2014 he is elected to the EP from the Law and Justice list and leaves the party a few weeks later. He is the most recognisable face of a small right-wing party, the Right Wing of the Republic (RWP, Prawica Rzeczypospolitej). Once, he was the Speaker of the Sejm, the Polish Parliament 2005-7, and has been active in the politics since 1989. Always as a devoted Catholic.
PiS No More
Today Mr Jurek has a problem. There is an abundance of right wing parties in Poland. Yet, they do not qualify as good partners. Mr Jurek party’s leitmotif is a complete ban of abortion. He disagrees with Law and Justice blaming the ruling party for not strengthening the anti-abortion legislation in Poland.
In Poland abortion is legal only in three situations: if the pregnancy threatens the life or health of the mother; if according to the prenatal checks there is a high risk of a serious damage to the fetus; or if the pregnancy is a result of a rape. Mr Jurek’s party campaigns to ban all three exceptions.
For Mr Jurek PiS is not an option any more. As Marian Piłka, another RWP politician, explains in 2018: there was an agreement between RWP and Law and Justice and “the agreement contained clear wording regarding the positions of our candidates. Unfortunately, the promises have not been kept”.
The Confederacy is a No-Go
If not PiS, Confederacy is a second option. It is a coalition of various far-right groups, including Janusz Korwin-Mikke’s supporters, the Liberty party (Wolność), nationalists like Grzegorz Braun or Robert Winnicki, or other anti-abortion activists like Kaja Godek. Mr Jurek has a problem with Confederacy, too. The problem’s name is Grzegorz Braun, who recently spoke about scourging of gays.
When Mr Braun wants to talk about “penalisation of homosexuality in the EP”, Mr Jurek says bringing up this issue is not a good idea. Instead he should be focused on the real issues. Jurek: “I was with this matter in Budapest, in Paris in the National Assembly, in the Netherlands, in Brussels. Think about it, if Mr Braun, this time in Brussels, has two more speeches about scourging people who have a different lifestyle, then it is an end our project to safeguard the right of states not to recognize homosexual relationships”.
REM is a long-shot
If not Confederacy, then who? How about the Real Europe Movement (REM)? This new initiative is launched by another MEP Mirosław Piotrowski, who is also affiliated with PiS, that is – he also was elected with PiS back in 2009 and 2014, but departed from the too-soft PiS, according to Mr Piotrowski himself. MEP Piotrowski first entered the European Parliament in 2004 with the League of Polish Families (LPR), the once popular far-right party in mid-2000s which campaigned against EU accession in the 2003 referendum and entered the PiS government 2005-7.
Today Mr Piotrowski tries his chances with a new movement, the REM. Their chances remain limited, but as super-conservatives and pro-Catholic Church as the REM stands for – “Real Europe”, he enjoys a powerful ally. Mr Piotrowski in a local radio says this month: “We, first of all, are in favour of Christian values in the European Union, for the civilization of life and for a normal family”. Sounds like a natural partner for Mr Jurek, especially since Mr Piotrowski allegedly has the backing of the powerful father Tadeusz Rydzyk, leader of Radio Maryja. Mr Rydzyk influence with the right-wing devoted voters is never to be underestimated by the far-right, right-wing, conservative, pro-Catholic Church politicians in Poland. Law and Justice, Kukiz’15 and all the outside of Sejm parties seek Mr Rydzyk blessing in their deeds.
And so for a moment it looks like the candidates of Jurek’s RWP are included on the electoral lists of the Piotrowski’s REM. But Jurek himself is not on the list. They campaign, they gather signatures for their candidates. All looks fine…
And the winner is Kukiz’15
Then comes 11 April and the small world of RWP is turned upside down while the small world of REM is crushing down. Mr Jurek has been saying he was not running for re-election and the RWP candidates are happy with the REP. On 11 April Mr Krzysztof Kawęcki is quoted on all major media. Who is Mr Kawęcki? He is the nominal chairman of the RWP, but not its true leader. Kawęcki says: “I do not understand the decision of Marek Jurek” and warns of the RWP break down.
What did Mr Jurek do before 11 April and announced on 11 April is the following: there are RWP candidates on the electoral list of Kukiz’15! This is the best chance for re-election for Mr Jurek, as there is no guarantee that the Confederacy or the REM can ever reach the 5% electoral threshold. And Mr Kukiz sounds like a perfect partner for Mr Jurek.
Mr Jurek: “Poland needs an independent, strong right-wing. We go to the elections to show that Poland is not a billiard ball in a game played by the Law and Justice (PiS) and the Civic Platform (PO)”. He also advocates for cooperation of all the like minded people. Kukiz’15 is to include on its lists not only Mr Jurek, but also Mr Piłka and other candidates.
Mr Jurek is No. 1 on the list of Kukiz’15 in Poznań.
This is a perfect deal. It allows for Mr Jurek to have a new credible chance of re-election. It allows for Mr Jurek to continue his political platform in the European Parliament. It strengthens Mr Kukiz in his struggles to break the 5% threshold. Latest opinion polls give Kukiz’15 about 6% of the votes.
In the process the chances of Mr Piotrowski to return to the European Parliament have been eliminated. The late departure of RWP from its alliance with REM meant that REM was short of time to collect enough signatures by the deadline. On 17 April Mr Piotrowski announced that REM decided to discontinue to collect the signatures knowing that they would fall short of registering lists in 7 of 13 regions necessary to run in the entire country.
The fact that REM is not going to compete in European elections is excellent news for all the competitors of the same electorate: Law and Justice, Kukiz’15 and the Confederacy.