Mateusz Morawiecki JP Black/Getty Images

New Puppet, Same Puppet Master in Poland

The choice of Mateusz Morawiecki to lead Poland's Law and Justice (PiS) government is widely believed to reflect the PiS's desire to endear itself to investors and the European Union. In fact, Morawiecki, like his predecessor, was chosen for a very different reason: to facilitate PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński's consolidation of power.

WARSAW – Whether Poland’s parliament, the Sejm, would manage to hold a vote on Mateusz Morawiecki’s nomination as prime minister remained unclear until the last minute. December 13 was fast approaching, and the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party wanted to avoid holding the vote on that date at all costs.

For Poles, December 13 is associated with the communist government’s declaration of martial law in 1981. On that night 36 years ago, Jarosław Kaczyński, the PiS’s chairman and today the de facto leader of Poland, was sleeping soundly while communism’s true opponents were arrested by the thousands. Stanisław Piotrowicz, the state prosecutor under martial law (which remained in effect until 1983), is currently leading the PiS government’s campaign to seize control of the Polish judiciary.

Morawiecki has now been sworn in as prime minister, succeeding Beata Szydło, under whose premiership the PiS enjoyed higher favorability – reaching 47% in October – than at any other time in its history. According to the most popular theory, the only reason for replacing her is PiS’s desire to mollify the European Union (which is poised to impose unprecedented sanctions on a Union member because of Poland’s failure to uphold EU norms) and attract investors.

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