On Sunday, May 24, the second round of the presidential elections in Poland saw the victory of Andrzej Duda, the candidate of the largest opposition party (Law and Justice, or “PiS”) in the country, over the liberal post-communist incumbent, Bronisław Komorowski. This political shift in the Central European nation prompted The New York Times – which has a long record of biased and skewed coverage of events in Poland – to mislabel Mr. Duda’s party as “right-wing,” thereby implicitly accusing Law and Justice of extremism. To correct this distortion, Dr. Chodakiewicz wrote a letter to the daily’s editors. Since the paper chose not to publish his comments, we are posting the text of Dr. Chodakiewicz’s letter below.
To call Poland’s Law and Justice party (PiS) “right-wing” is a stretch (as you did in your coverage of the recent presidential elections). It is a statist party, combining many traditions. Its leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, himself is a pragmatic who sprang from the progressive, left-wing milieu of Warsaw’s radical intelligentsia with cosmopolitan Odessa roots. In addition to its mild anti-Communism, PiS has evolved to combine a strong “social justice” message, an appeal to patriotism, a pledge to strengthen the nation’s defense, a record of lower taxes, opposition to “unbridled capitalism,” and an avowed social and cultural conservatism. In many ways, PiS reflects the legacy of Solidarity’s grass roots, but not some of its globalist elites. The closest domestic analogy would be American blue collar trade unionism in the 1980s under Lane Kirkland, I guess, or “Reagan Democrats.”