Polish Ruling Party Quells Speculation on Hospitalized Kaczynski

(Bloomberg) -- Poland’s government sought to quell speculation that ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who’s been hospitalized since early May, has lost control of the ruling Law & Justice party and is considering retiring.

Holding no elected post other than lawmaker, Kaczynski wields the power behind the conservative administration of Mateusz Morawiecki, who the Law & Justice leader hand-picked as prime minister last year. Polish news outlets have reported that since Kaczynski, 68, has been in care for a knee problem, decision making has suffered and successors have been jockeying for position to replace him.

“I’ll start with the bad news, especially for all those that either wish Kaczynski a quick political retirement or who spread nasty, fake lies about his health,” Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski told TVN24 on Wednesday. “Jaroslaw Kaczynski indeed has a problem with his knee. It causes him pain, renowned specialists are working on it, but he’s not thinking about political retirement.”

Kaczynski is the linchpin in a clash between Poland and the European Union, which has accused the Law & Justice-led government of backsliding on democracy by undermining the independence of the courts. Channeling other populist leaders in Europe, Kaczynski argues the judicial overhauls are necessary to pull Poland away from the EU’s liberal, multi-cultural values and return the country of 38 million back to its Christian roots.

No Contingency Plan

Deputy Senate Speaker Adam Bielan told Bloomberg earlier this month that Kaczynski is able to run the ruling party by phone and no contingency plans are needed. Tabloids have splashed photographs of Morawiecki, as well as other senior party officials, visiting and reportedly spending hours at the Warsaw hospital where Kaczynski’s staying.

The government’s support has been dented by a protest in parliament by families with disabled children, who have occupied the main hallway of the assembly for more than a month. With no resolution to the sit-in on the horizon, support for the government fell four percentage points this month to 38 percent, the CBOS pollster said Wednesday.

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