Law and Justice

For the journal, see Law and Justice (journal).
Law and Justice
Prawo i Sprawiedliwość
Chairman Jarosław Kaczyński
Founder Lech Kaczyński
Jarosław Kaczyński
Founded 13 June 2001 (2001-06-13)
Headquarters ul. Nowogrodzka 84/86 02-018 Warsaw
Youth wing Law and Justice Youth Forum
Membership  (2015) 30,000[1]
Ideology National conservatism[2][3]
Social conservatism[3]
Economic nationalism[4][5][6]
Christian democracy[7][8]
Soft euroscepticism[9][10]
Political position Right-wing[11][12][13][14]
European affiliation Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe
International affiliation None
European Parliament group European Conservatives and Reformists
Colours      Navy blue      Red[15]
216 / 460
56 / 100
European Parliament
17 / 51
Regional assemblies
142 / 555

Law and Justice (Polish:  Prawo i Sprawiedliwość ), abbreviated to PiS, is a right-wing[16][17][18] national-conservative,[2][3] and Christian democratic[7][8] political party in Poland. With 216 seats in the Sejm and 56 in the Senate, it is currently the largest party in the Polish parliament.

The party was founded in 2001 by the Kaczyński twins, Lech and Jarosław. It was formed from part of the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), with the Christian democratic Centre Agreement forming the new party's core.[19] The party won the 2005 election, while Lech Kaczyński won the presidency. Jarosław served as Prime Minister, before calling elections in 2007, in which the party came second to Civic Platform (PO). Several leading members, including Lech Kaczyński, died in a plane crash in 2010.

The party programme is dominated by the Kaczyńskis' conservative and law and order agenda.[19] It has embraced economic interventionism, while maintaining a socially conservative stance that in 2005 moved towards the Catholic Church;[19] the party's Catholic-nationalist wing split off in 2011 to form Solidary Poland. The party is solidarist and mildly eurosceptic.

PiS is a member of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) European political party. The current sixteen PiS MEPs sit, as well as three other people elected from the PiS register, in the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament.



The party was created on a wave of popularity gained by late president of Poland Lech Kaczyński while heading the Polish Ministry of Justice (June 2000 to July 2001) in the AWS-led government, although local committees began appearing from 22 March 2001. The AWS itself was created from a diverse array of many small right-wing political parties.

In the 2001 general election PiS gained 44 (of 460) seats in the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament (Sejm) with 9.5% of votes. In 2002, Lech Kaczyński was elected mayor of Warsaw.

In government

In the 2005 general election, PiS took first place with 27.0% of votes, which gave it 155 out of 460 seats in the Sejm and 49 out of 100 seats in the Senate. A coalition of Civic Platform (PO) and PiS was almost universally expected to be the most likely government to form after the election.[19] The putative coalition parties had a falling out, however, related to a fierce contest for the Polish presidency. In the end, Lech Kaczyński won the second round of the presidential election on 23 October 2005 with 54.0% of the vote, ahead of Donald Tusk, the PO candidate.

After the 2005 elections, Jarosław should have become Prime Minister. However, in order to improve his brother's chances of winning the presidency, PiS formed a minority government headed by Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz as prime minister, an arrangement that eventually turned out to be unworkable. In July 2006 PiS formed a majority government with the agrarian populist Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland and nationalist League of Polish Families, headed by Jarosław Kaczyński. Association with these parties, on the margins of Polish politics, severely affected the reputation of PiS. When accusations of corruption and sexual harassment against the Andrzej Lepper, the leader of Self Defense, surfaced, PiS chose to end the coalition and called for new elections.

In opposition

In the 2007 general election PiS managed to secure 32.1% of votes. Although an improvement over the results from two years before, the results were nevertheless a defeat for the party, as Civic Platform (PO) gathered 41.5% of support. The party won 166 out of 460 seats in the Sejm and 39 seats in Poland's Senate.

On 10 April 2010, its former leader Lech Kaczyński died in the 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash.

In government again

The party won the 2015 parliamentary election, won the majority of seats and formed the government.


In January 2010, a breakaway faction led by Jerzy Polaczek split from the party to form Poland Plus. Its seven members of the Sejm came from the centrist, economically liberal wing of the party. On 24 September 2010, the group was disbanded, with most of its Sejm members, including Polaczek, returning to Law and Justice.

On 16 November 2010, MPs Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska, Elżbieta Jakubiak and Paweł Poncyljusz, and MEPs Adam Bielan and Michał Kamiński formed a new political group, Poland Comes First (Polska jest Najważniejsza).[20] Kamiński said that the Law and Justice party had been taken over by far-right extremists. The breakaway party formed following dissatisfaction with the direction and leadership of Kaczyński.[21]

On 4 November 2011, MEPs Zbigniew Ziobro, Jacek Kurski, and Tadeusz Cymański were ejected from the party, after Ziobro urged the party to split further into two separate parties – centrist and nationalist – with the three representing the nationalist faction.[22] Ziobro's supporters, most of whom on the right-wing of the party, formed a new group in Parliament called Solidary Poland,[23] leading to their expulsion, too.[24] United Poland was formed as a formally separate party in March 2012, but hasn't threatened Law and Justice in opinion polls.[25]


Initially the party was broadly pro-market, although less so than the Civic Platform.[26] It has adopted the social market economy rhetoric similar to that of western European Christian democratic parties.[19] In the 2005 election, the party shifted to the protectionist left on economics.[26] As Prime Minister, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz was more economically liberal than the Kaczyńskis, advocating a position closer to Civic Platform.[27] However, unlike Civic Platform, whose emphasis is the economy, Law and Justice's focus is fighting corruption.[26]

On foreign policy, PiS is Atlanticist and less supportive of European integration than Civic Platform.[26] The party is soft eurosceptic,[9][10] and opposes a federal Europe. In its campaigns, it emphasises that the European Union should 'benefit Poland and not the other way around'.[28] It is a member of the anti-federalist Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists, having previously been a part of the Alliance for Europe of the Nations and, before that, the European People's Party.[19][29]

Election results


Election year # of
% of
# of
overall seats won
+/– Govt?
2001 1,236,787 9.5 (#4)
44 / 460
2005 3,185,714 27.0 (#1)
155 / 460
Increase 111 Coalition
2007 5,183,477 32.1 (#2)
166 / 460
Increase 11 Opposition
2011 4,295,016 29.9 (#2)
157 / 460
Decrease 9 Opposition
2015 5,711,687 37.6 (#1)
235 / 460
Increase 78 Coalition

*Only 217 of those were actually from the party. 9 of the elected were members of Solidarity for Poland, 8 were members of Poland Together and Jan Klawiter was a member of Right Wing of the Republic. He later became an independent in the Sejm (not affiliated to any parliamentary faction).


Election year # of
overall seats won
0 / 100
As part of the Senate 2001 coalition, which won 15 seats.
49 / 100
Increase 49
39 / 100
Decrease 10
31 / 100
Decrease 8
61 / 100
Increase 30

European Parliament

Election year # of
% of
# of
overall seats won
2004 771,858 12.7 (#3)
7 / 54
2009 2,017,607 27.4 (#2)
15 / 50
Increase 8
2014 2,246,870 31.8 (#2)
19 / 51
Increase 4

*Currently 16: Zdzisław Krasnodębski is elected from the PiS register, but not a member of the party, Mirosław Piotrowski left PiS (08.10.2014), Marek Jurek left PiS (15.07.2014)


Election year Candidate 1st round 2nd round
# of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall votes % of overall vote
2005 Lech Kaczyński 4,947,927 33.1 (#2) 8,257,468 54.0 (#1)
2010 Jarosław Kaczyński 6,128,255 36.5 (#2) 7,919,134 47.0 (#2)
2015 Andrzej Duda 5,179,092 34.8 (#1) 8,719,281 51.5 (#1)

Regional assemblies

Election year % of
# of
overall seats won
2002 15.6 (#3)
97 / 561
In coalition with Civic Platform.
2006 25.1 (#2)
170 / 561
2010 23.1 (#2)
141 / 561
Decrease 29
2014 26.9 (#1)
171 / 555
Increase 30

Political support

See also: Poland A and B
Law and Justice's support is concentrated in the east of the country. Areas voting for Jarosław Kaczyński in 2010 are shaded blue above.

Like Civic Platform, but unlike the fringe parties to the right, Law and Justice originated from the secular, anti-communist Solidarity trade union (which is a major cleavage in Polish politics).[30] Solidarity's leadership wanted to back Law and Justice in 2005, but was held back by the union's last experience of party politics, in backing Solidarity Electoral Action.[19]

The party appeals to the 'disenfranchised' constituency that has not benefited from economic liberalisation and European integration.[26] Regionally, it has more support in regions of Poland that were historically part of western Galicia-Lodomeria and Congress Poland.[31] Although it does less well in the greater Warsaw area.

Based on this voter profile, Law and Justice form the core of the conservative post-Solidarity bloc, along with the League of Polish Families and Solidarity Electoral Action, as opposed to liberal conservative post-Solidarity bloc of Civic Platform.[32] The most prominent feature of PiS voters was their emphasis on decommunisation.[33]


Beata Szydło - Narodowego Święto Niepodległości


The party supports a state-guaranteed minimum social safety net and state intervention in the economy within market economy bounds. During the election campaign it proposed tax decrease to two personal tax rates (18% and 32%) and tax rebates related to the number of children in a family, as well as a reduction of the VAT rate (while keeping a variation between individual types of VAT rates). 18% and 32% tax rates were eventually implemented. Also: a continuation of privatisation with the exclusion of several dozen state companies deemed to be of strategic importance for the country. PiS opposes cutting social welfare spending, and also proposed the introduction of a system of state-guaranteed housing loans.


PiS is a strong supporter of lustration (lustracja), a verification system created ostensibly to combat the influence of the Communist era security apparatus in Polish society. While current lustration laws require the verification of those who serve in public offices, PiS wants to expand the process to include university professors, lawyers, journalists, managers of large companies, and others performing "public functions". Those found to have collaborated with the security service, according to the party, should be forbidden to practice in their professions.

PiS also supports revealing the names of all secret agents from the time of the communist regime.

Crime and corruption

PiS advocates increased criminal penalties. It postulates aggressive anti-corruption measures (including creation of an Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA), open disclosure of the assets of politicians and important public servants), as well as broad and various measures to smooth the working of public institutions.

Constitution, power structures

PiS meeting on National Independence Day

PiS has presented a project for constitutional reform including, among others: allowing the president the right to pass laws by decree (when prompted to do so by the Cabinet), a reduction of the number of members of the Sejm and Senat, and removal of constitutional bodies overseeing the media and monetary policy.

Defence policy

The party is in favour of strengthening the Polish Army through diminishing bureaucracy and raising military expenditures, especially for modernization of army equipment. PiS plans to introduce a fully professional army and end conscription by 2012 (in August 2008, compulsory military service was abolished in Poland). It is also in favor of participation of Poland in foreign military missions led by the United Nations, NATO and United States, in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.

Foreign affairs

The party supports integration with the European Union on terms beneficial for Poland. It supports economic integration and tightening the cooperation in areas of energetic security and military, but is skeptical about closer political integration. It is against formation of European superstate or federation. PiS is in favor of strong political and military alliance of Poland with the United States.

In the European Parliament it is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists, a group founded in 2009 to challenge the prevailing pro-federalist ethos of the European Parliament and address the perceived democratic deficit existing at a European level.

Health care

PiS supports state provided universal health care[34]

Social issues

The party's views on social issues are much more traditionalist than those of conservative parties in other European countries. The vast majority of members of the party favors restrictions on abortion in most cases including fetal defects, rape or incest, which is already illegal in extraordinary circumstances. It is also against euthanasia, sexual education and in the past the party proposed complete ban of in-vitro fertilisation. It opposes same-sex marriages or any other form of legal recognition of homosexual couples. The PiS are highly critical of homosexuality, sex and violence in the media.

PiS strongly promotes itself as a pro-family party. Prior to elections, it promised to build 3 million inexpensive housing units as a way to help young couples get married. Once in government, it pushed through legislation lengthening maternal leaves and offered qualified support to the idea of giving parents a grant for every newly-born child. It favors shutting down large supermarkets on Sundays and holidays, so their workers can spend more time with their families.

Gay rights

On 21 September 2005, Jarosław Kaczyński said that "homosexuals should not be isolated, however they should not be school teachers for example. Active homosexuals surely not, in any case", but that homosexuals "should not be discriminated otherwise".[35] He has also stated, "The affirmation of homosexuality will lead to the downfall of civilization. We can't agree to it".[36] Lech Kaczynski, while mayor of Warsaw, refused authorization for a gay pride march; declaring that it would be obscene and offensive to other people's religious beliefs. A Warsaw court later ruled that Kaczynski's actions were illegal.[37] Kaczyński was quoted as saying, "I am not willing to meet perverts."[38]

In 2013, Krystyna Pawłowicz, a Law and Justice member of the Polish parliament said "homosexuals are socially useless",[39] and that "the society cannot offer a sweet life to unstable, infertile relationships of people, from whom the society gets no benefit, only because of their sexual bonds". She also spoke against homosexuals raising children: "Children like these are not brought up correctly, cannot establish a family, commit suicides more often and are frequently sexually abused".[40]

The party's position on gay rights, and their perceived homophobia, has led to controversy in the United Kingdom where the British Conservative Party joined them in the anti-federalist grouping European Conservatives and Reformists.[41][42] The Labour Party criticised the Conservatives; with former British Minister for Europe Denis MacShane saying "Tory isolationism is now creating a network of unpleasant, ugly, anti-European parties grouped around Cameron and Hague, but surely they should draw the line at links with gay-bashing homophobes".[43][44] Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague defended the PiS and called the accusations of homophobia ""ill-informed and out of date".[45] The controversy continued after a video from 2000 was released of Michał Kamiński using the derogatory Polish word "pedał" (usually translated into English as fag or queer) to refer to gay rights campaigners. A spokesperson for Kamiński said the term had a different connotation a decade ago and is not a word he would use today. Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope defended Kamiński saying his remarks were taken out of context.[46] Kamiński later quit the party and joined the more moderate Poland Comes First party. In 2010, the then Labour candidate for Cambridge Daniel Zeichner performed a Nazi salute during a debate at the Cambridge Union Society in which a PiS representative participated. The incident received national press coverage.


Party chairmen

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Prawo i Sprawiedliwość.


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