Lech Kaczyński

Lech Kaczyński

Infobox President
name = Lech Aleksander Kaczynski

order = President of Poland
primeminister = Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz
Jaroslaw Kaczynski
Donald Tusk
vicepresident =
term_start = 23 December 2005
term_end =
predecessor = Aleksander Kwaśniewski
successor =
order2 = Justice Minister of Poland
primeminister2 = Jerzy Buzek
president2 = Aleksander Kwaśniewski
term_start2 = 12 June 2000
term_end2 = 4 July 2001
predecessor2 = Hanna Suchocka
successor2 = Stanisław Iwanicki
order3 = President of Warsaw
term_start3 = 18 November 2002
term_end3 = 22 December 2005
predecessor3 = Wojciech Kozak
successor3 = Mirosław Kochalski (acting)
order4 = President of the Supreme Chamber of Control of Poland
term_start4 = 1992
term_end4 = 1995
predecessor4 = Walerian Pańko
successor4 = Janusz Wojciechowski
birth_date = birth date and age|1949|06|18|df=y
birth_place = Warsaw, Poland
death_date =
death_place =
party = None
Law and Justice (2001-2006)
spouse = Maria Kaczyńska
profession = Lawyer
religion = Roman Catholic
Audio|Pl-Lech Kaczyński.ogg|Lech Aleksander Kaczyński, pronounced|ˈlɛx alɛˈksandɛr kaˈtʂɨɲskʲi (born 18 June 1949) is the President of the Republic of Poland a politician of the conservative party Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice, PiS). Kaczyński served as President of Warsaw from 2002 until 22 December 2005, the day before his presidential inauguration. He is the identical twin brother of the former Prime Minister of Poland, Jarosław Kaczyński.

Personal life

Early life

The Kaczyński twins were born in Warsaw as sons of Rajmund (an engineer who served as a soldier of the Armia Krajowa in World War II and a veteran of the Warsaw Uprising) [ [http://www.sejm-wielki.pl/b.php?o=sw.11841 Rajmund Kaczyñski h. Pomian: genealogia (Potomkowie Sejmu Wielkiego) ] ] and Jadwiga (a philologist at the Polish Academy of Sciences) [ [http://www.sejm-wielki.pl/b.php?o=sw.11842 Jadwiga Jasiewicz h. Rawicz: genealogia (Potomkowie Sejmu Wielkiego) ] ] . Lech can be distinguished from his brother by a mole on his left cheek. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-2277733,00.html 'Terrible twins' take power and declare war against EU liberals - World - Times Online ] ] As children, the brothers starred in a 1962 Polish film, "The Two Who Stole the Moon" (Polish title "O dwóch takich, co ukradli księżyc"), based on a popular children's story by Kornel Makuszyński.

Kaczyński is a graduate of law and administration of Warsaw University. In 1980 he was awarded his PhD by Gdańsk University. In 1990 he had his habilitation in labour and employment law. He later assumed professorial positions at Gdańsk University and Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw.

Marriage and family

He is married to Maria Kaczyńska, born 1943, and has one daughter, Marta (born 1980).

Opposition to Communism

In the 1970s Lech Kaczyński was an activist in the democratic anti-Communist movement in Poland, Workers' Defence Committee, as well as the Independent Trade Union movement. In August, 1980, he became an adviser to the Inter-Enterprise Strike Committee in the Gdańsk Shipyard and the Solidarity movement. During the martial law introduced by the communists in December, 1981, he was interned as an "anti-socialist element". After his release from internment, he returned to trade union activities, becoming a member of the underground Solidarity.

When Solidarity was legalized again in the late 1980s, Lech Kaczyński was an active adviser of Lech Wałęsa and his Komitet Obywatelski Solidarność in 1988. From February to April, 1989, he participated in Polish Round Table talks.

Porozumienie Centrum

Kaczyński was elected a senator in elections of June 1989, and became the vice-chairman of Solidarity trade union NSZZ Solidarność. In the 1991 parliamentary election, Kaczyński was elected to the parliament as a non-party member. He was, however, supported by the electoral committee "Center Civic Alliance", closely related but not identical to the political party Porozumienie Centrum ("Center Agreement") led by his brother. He was also the main adviser and supporter of Lech Wałęsa when the latter was elected as President of Poland in December 1990. Wałęsa nominated Kaczyński to be the Security Minister in the Presidential Chancellery but fired him in 1992 due to a conflict concerning Jan Olszewski's government. That event marks the beginning of a long conflict between Wałęsa and the Kaczyński brothers. According to Wałęsa, who recently criticized the Kaczyński brothers, a reason was that "His approach is to first destroy and then think about what to build". [cite web|title=NYT editorial|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/20/world/europe/20briefs-005.html
cite web|title=Der Spiegel artikel (German)|url=http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,426893,00.html
cite web|title=Wałęsa interview (Polish)|url=http://www.radiozet.com.pl/index.php?page=rozmowy&id=4115&year=2006&month=7

Lech Kaczyński was the President of the Supreme Chamber of Control (Najwyższa Izba Kontroli, NIK) from February 1992 to May 1995 and later Minister of Justice and Attorney General in Jerzy Buzek's government from June 2000 until his dismissal in July 2001. During this time he was very popular because he fought corruption.

Law and Justice

In 2001 he founded the Prawo i Sprawiedliwość party with his brother Jarosław. He was the president of the party between 2001 and 2003.

President of Warsaw

In 2002, Kaczyński became the mayor of Warsaw. As mayor, he supported the construction of the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising. During his election campaign he famously said "Spieprzaj dziadu!" ("Piss off, old man!") to a man heckling him on the street. This has now become one of the most famous sayings in modern Poland. [http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spieprzaj_dziadu ]

He banned a gay movement parade in 2004 and 2005, stating the lack of necessary documentation by organisers as the reason but also saying the parade would promote a "homosexual lifestyle". [cite web|title=BBC News: Gay marchers ignore ban in Warsaw|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4084324.stm] He also cited as reasons for the ban security measures, it being offensive to public morals and the fact that the parade coincided with the unveiling of a monument to general Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski. In 2004 his opponents called his actions unconstitutional and he has been repeatedly criticised by the Mazowieckie voivodeship administration, which officially supervises the Mayor of Warsaw. In 2005, he allowed a counter-demonstration, the "Parade of Normality." [cite web|title=Radio Polonia: Anti-gay demonstration in Warsaw|url=http://www.radio.com.pl/polonia/article.asp?tId=24125&j=2]

As President of Warsaw, Lech Kaczyński established a historical commission in 2004 to estimate material losses that were inflicted upon the city by the Germans in the Second World War (an estimated 85% of the city was destroyed in the Warsaw Uprising) as a direct response to heightened claims coming from German expellees from Poland. The commission estimated the losses on at least 45.3 billion euros ($54 billion) in current value. The Deutsche Welle and others described his presention of the findings as anti-German card to win voters for Kaczyński’s presidency. Deutsche Welle quoted political analyst Stanisław Mocek who in his critique of various elements of Kaczyński’s campaign described the timing of the investigation of war time losses of Warsaw as an attempt to "win over older voters who still vividly remember the war." That view was rebuked by Kaczyński, who replied: "Work on this report was begun in May 2004; it is not linked in any way whatsoever to the electoral calendar." [ [http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,1745340,00.html Polish Politician Plays Anti-German Card | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 18.10.2005 ] ]


Presidential elections

On 19 March 2005, he formally declared his intention to run for president in the October 2005 election. During his election campaign, he pledged that should he win, his brother Jaroslaw would not become Prime Minister. [ [http://www.newint.org/columns/worldbeaters/2007/04/01/kaczynski/ Two for the price of one, in the shape of Tweedledum and Tweedledee | April 2007 | New Internationalist ] ] Lech won and Jaroslaw became Prime Minister in summer 2006.

Elected President of the Republic of Poland on 23 October, he assumed the office on 23 December 2005 by taking an oath before the National Assembly.

Domestic policy

In his first public speech as president-elect, Kaczyński said his presidency would have the fundamental task "amelioration of the Republic". This will consist of "purging various pathologies from our life, most prominently including crime (...), particularly criminal corruption – that entire, great rush to obtain unjust enrichment, a rush that is poisoning society, [and preventing the state from ensuring] elementary social security, health security, basic conditions for the development of the family [and] the security of commerce and the basic conditions for economic development". [cite web|title=Speech of the president-elect on his official webpage|url=http://www.president.pl/x.node?id=434]

During his inauguration he stated several goals he would pursue during his presidency. Among those concerning internal affairs were: increasing social solidarity in Poland, bringing justice to those who were responsible or affected by communist crimes in the People's Republic of Poland, fighting corruption, providing security in economy, and safety for development of family. Kaczyński also stated that he would seek to abolish differences between regions. In his speech he also put emphasis on combining modernisation with tradition and remembering the teachings of Pope John Paul II.

Low popularity

As of February 2008 approval rating for President Kaczyński is low - 29%. [ [http://wiadomosci.gazeta.pl/Wiadomosci/1,80269,4930130.html Gazeta Wyborcza] ] The same survey showed that the approval of the opposition-controlled legislature was at 39%, a fact omitted by the opposition-leaning Gazeta Wyborcza. [ [http://www.cbos.pl/SPISKOM.POL/2008/K_026_08.PDF] CBOS Public Opinion Pages 3-4]

As of June 2008, according to polls, 73% of voters don't want Kaczyński to seek re-election in 2010. Only 35% approve his foreign policy (with 59% dissapprove). Also 35% aporove his domestic policy, while 62 do not [ [http://wiadomosci.gazeta.pl/Wiadomosci/1,80271,5338357,73_proc__Polakow_nie_chce__zeby_L__Kaczynski_ubiegal.html 73 proc. Polaków nie chce, żeby L. Kaczyński ubiegał się o reelekcję ] ] .

Foreign affairs

In foreign affairs, President Kaczyński noted that many of Poland's problems were involved with lack of energy security and this issue would have to be resolved in order to protect Polish interests. Strengthening ties with the USA while continuing to develop relations within the European Union are two main goals of Polish foreign affairs, as well as improving relations with France and Germany despite several problems in relations with the latter.Outside those issues, the main tasks are developing a visible strategic partnership with Ukraine and greater cooperation with the Baltic states and Georgia.

Defense Minister Radosław Sikorski compared the planned Russia to Germany gas pipeline to the infamous Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact and Foreign minister Anna Fotyga stated that the pipeline was a threat to Poland's energy security. [ cite news
title=ENERGY DELIVERIES -- Gas Diplomacy
publisher=The Warsaw Voice

In November 2006 Helsinki European Union--Russia meeting Poland vetoed the launch of EU-Russia partnership talks due to Russian ban on Polish meat and plant products imports. [cite news
title=EU Divided After Poland’s Veto Hosts Russia’s Putin at Summit

As a reaction to claims by an obscure German exile group Preussische Treuhand, which represents post-1945 German expellees from Eastern Europe, the Polish Foreign Minister Fotyga (a protégé of Kaczyński) mistakenly threatened to reopen a 1990 Treaty fixing the Oder and Neisse rivers as the border between the two countries instead of the Neighborhood Treaty signed in the same year. [cite news
title=Poles Angered by German WWII Compensation Claims
publisher=Spiegel Online
] [cite news
title=Furious Poland Threatens to Re-Open German Border Treaty
publisher=Spiegel Online

Taz article controversy

On 26 June 2006, the German left-wing newspaper "die tageszeitung" (taz) published a satirical article about Lech Kaczyński, titled "Poland's new potato". [de icon cite news|title=Polens neue Kartoffel|author=Peter Köhler|date=20 June 2006|page=20|publisher=die tageszeitung|url=http://www.taz.de/pt/2006/06/26/a0248.1/text
pl icon cite web|title=Młody polski kartofel (Nowy kartofel w Polsce)|author=Peter Köhler|accessdate=2006-07-16|url=http://www.taz.de/pt/.1/etc/Kaczyński
] The writing formed part of a series of satirical characterisations of politicians titled "Rogues who want to rule the world". Previous subjects of the series included, among others, the dictators Saddam Hussein (before being toppled in 2003) [de icon cite news|title=Er wollte Balletttänzer werden|author=Peter Köhler|date=2 February 2003|page=32|publisher=die tageszeitung|url=http://www.taz.de/pt/2003/02/15/a0214.1/text] and Alexander Lukashenko, [de icon cite news|title=Das Monster von Minsk|author=Peter Köhler|date=24 November 2004|page=20|publisher=die tageszeitung|url=http://www.taz.de/pt/2004/11/24/a0219.1/text] as well as German politicians such as Ulla Schmidt [de icon cite news|title=Frau Doktor Honigkuchenpferd|author=Peter Köhler|date=15 March 2004|page=20|publisher=die tageszeitung|url=http://www.taz.de/pt/2004/03/15/a0270.1/text] and Sigmar Gabriel. [de icon cite news|title=Der König der Kartoffeln|author=Peter Köhler|date=21 January 2003|page=20|publisher=die tageszeitung|url=http://www.taz.de/pt/2003/01/27/a0175.1/text] The article lampooned, among other things, the Kaczyński brothers' perceived xenophobic, homophobic and authoritarian stance:

Now Parliament is to rubber-stamp more than a hundred laws without irritating the government's glorious nose with any criticism. The Kaczyńskis' role model is Józef Piłsudski, the inventor of the Poland of 1919, who in 1926 came up with "guided democracy" and greased the path of the semi-fascist military regime of 1935. Like Piłsudski, the Kaczyńskis are Poles up to their ears, and the Fatherland fits them like a glove. Both have proved that they are clean fore and aft: Lech, who has on several occasion prohibited public buttocks on the men of Warsaw, and even more so Jarosław, who's living with his own mother – but at least without a marriage certificate. [Author's translation.]

The Polish government soon expressed its strong disapproval:
* Lech Kaczyński called the article "disgusting and mean" and on 21 July 2006, he said that he knew of no comparable attacks against politicians and their families. [de icon cite news|title=Polnische Staatsanwaltschaft ermittelt gegen "taz"|date=21 July 2006|publisher=Spiegel Online|url=http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,427984,00.html]
* His brother Jarosław declared that "an insult to a head of state is a crime and there must be consequences." (Indeed, the Polish law qualifies it as a crime.)
* Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga said that "such a collection of disgusting remarks is reminiscent of the language of the "Stürmer", a Nazi propaganda paper. She added that some dictators, as Saddam Hussein and Alexander Lukashenko were not treated this way. Fotyga then demanded a reaction from the German government, triggering a diplomatic row with Germany that the German press dubbed the "Potato War". [de icon cite news|title=Viel Lärm um wenig|url=http://www.sueddeutsche.de/,polm1/ausland/artikel/985/79906/|publisher=Sueddeutsche Zeitung]

On their part, German officials have declined to comment or to take any actions on grounds of the freedom of the press, while (according to newspaper reports) privately describing the row as "risible" and "unworthy" of a European Union member state. [cite news|title=Germany in hot water after labelling Polish leader a 'potato'|author=Tony Paterson|date=16 July 2006|publisher=The Daily Telegraph|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;?xml=/news/2006/07/16/wspud16.xml] The Kaczyński twins were also criticized by their political opponents in Poland, including former president Lech Wałęsa, who called them "men lacking the necessary stature". [ de icon cite news| title=Walesa attackiert Kaczyński-Brüder|publisher=Spiegel Online|url=http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,426893,00.html]

On 2 July 2006 Kaczyński effectively cancelled the Weimar Triangle summit with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Chirac, stating that he had stomach problems. [cite news|title=Poland's Hypersensitive Twins|author=David Crossland|date=11 July 2006|publisher=Spiegel Online|url=http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,426197,00.html] After Polish and German media speculated that the "taz" article was the real reason of the cancellation, Kaczyński stated that making a connection to the article was unfair and that the meeting was actually cancelled by his European partners who did not accept the choice of Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz as the Polish representative. [pl icon cite web|title=Możemy przegrać bitwę o Polskę|accessdate=2006-06-24|url=http://wiadomosci.onet.pl/1360014,11,1,1,item.html]

Opposing homosexuality

On 20 February 2007, on a state visit to Ireland, Kaczyński said that the human race ‘‘would disappear if homosexuality was freely promoted’’. Kaczyński also revealed, during a debate at the Forum on Europe in Dublin, that he was opposed to homosexuality being ‘‘treated as one of several choices’’. [cite news
first = Deaglán
last = de Breadún
url = http://www.forumoneurope.ie/eng/index.asp?docID=1192
title = Unwise to promote homosexuality - Kaczyński
publisher = National Forum on Europe (originally at [http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ireland/2007/0221/1171998711025.html The Irish Times] )
date = 2005-02-21
accessdate = 2007-04-23
] The comments generated scandal in Ireland among some media, and LGBT community. Senator David Norris, a key figure in securing the decriminalization of homosexuality in Ireland in 1993, said the remarks were ‘‘distempered, ignorant, unsophisticated attitudes".cite news
first = Paul
last = Hoskins
url = http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/world/20070221-0524-ireland-poland-gay.html
title = Polish president angers Irish gay rights groups
publisher = SignOnSanDiego.com
date = 2005-02-21
accessdate = 2007-04-23
] TD Joan Burton, a finance spokesperson with the Irish Labour Party, said the comments were ‘‘a pity’’ given people’s efforts to ‘‘eliminate gross and crass discrimination’’.

On 19 March 2008 President Lech Kaczynski broadcast a video of American couple Brendan Fay and Tom Moulton at their wedding on Poland's national television to illustrate a presidential address he was giving warning the nation that supporting the Lisbon Treaty, which is linked to the EU Charter of Human Rights, would mean that same-sex marriage could come to Poland.

Agence France Presse reported that Fay expressed outrage that video of his wedding, which took place in Canada, was being used in such a manner (even though Fay invited numerous journalists and the wedding thus became a public ceremony).

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk response to President Kaczyński actions: "To scare Poles by saying that homosexuals and Germans pose a threat to the EU is stupid, indecent, contrary to our fundamental interests and very damaging to Poland's image abroad."



External links

*pl icon/en icon [http://www.president.pl/ Official site]
*pl icon [http://www.polskieradio.pl/jedynka/news.aspx?iID=7265]
* [http://www.e-warsaw.pl/new/index.php?dzial=aktualnosci&ak_id=438&kat=1 Strong and Moral State: Lech Kaczynski Speaks on His Presidential Plans]
* [http://www.axisglobe.com/article.asp?article=403 Lech Kaczynski – The Head of the Capital Ready to Head the State]
*"The Times": [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-1957325,00.html New Polish leader finds demons lurking at home and abroad]
*"The Economist": [http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?story_id=5093529 Twins together, Poles apart]
*"Jewish Currents": [http://www.jewishcurrents.org/2006-sept-porter.htm The Return of the Radical Right in Poland]
*pl icon Fundacja Batorego: [http://www.batory.org.pl/debaty/lkaczynski.htm Wykład Lecha Kaczyńskiego] , 19 September 2005
*pl icon "Wprost": [http://ludzie.wprost.pl/sylwetka/?O=33635 Sylwetka]
*BBC profile: [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/1054681.stm]
*"The Guardian": [http://www.guardian.co.uk/eu/story/0,7369,1599957,00.html Polish leader's anti-gay stance threatens EU voting rights] - 25 October 2005
*pl icon "WP.pl": [http://wiadomosci.wp.pl/wiadomosc.html?kat=1342&wid=8642500&rfbawp=1166042959.579&ticaid=12da6 About Independence]
* [http://www.axisglobe.com/article.asp?article=394 Kaczynski Brothers: Movie Stars That Turned Politicians]
* [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/01/20060117-2.html President to Welcome Polish President Lech Kaczynski to the White House]
* [http://www.iiss.org/conferences/recent-key-addresses/he-lech-kaczyski-address IISS by H.E. Lech Kaczyński, President of the Republic of Poland]
* [http://serwisy.gazeta.pl/kraj/1,69907,2981430.html GW:Kaczyński prezydentem]
* [http://warsaw.usembassy.gov/poland/kaczynski.html US Congartulation]
* [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/05/images/20060504-1_v050406db-0357jpg-762v.html With USA Vc-president]
* [http://www.washington.polemb.net/index.php?document=222 The Polish President Lech Kaczyński visited the United States (8-11 February 2006).]
* [http://www.president.gov.ua/en/news/data/1_6398.html Visit in Ukraina]
* [http://www.wprost.pl/ar/?O=98912 Raport ws. żołnierzy WSI będzie jawny] - Wojskowe Służby Informacyjne
* [http://www.poland.pl/news/article,Lithuanian_president_in_Warsaw,id,254215.htm Lithuanian president in Warsaw]
* [http://www.poland.pl/news/article,Poland_supports_Turkish_EU_entry,id,251628.htm Poland supports Turkish EU entry]
* [http://www.poland.pl/news/article,Poland_hopes_for_complete_pullout_from_Iraq_by_end_2007,id,249178.htm Poland hopes for complete pullout from Iraq by end 2007]

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