Posted on July 12, 2023

Polish Politicians Attack Migrants for Electoral Gain

Jan Cienski and Wojciech Kość, Politico, July 9, 2023


Both the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party and the centrist opposition led by former European Council President Donald Tusk are raising fears about Muslim immigrants ahead of this fall’s parliamentary election.

PiS seized on the issue over the last few weeks. The government held out against an EU deal on relocating migrants — drawing the ire of most fellow member countries as well as the European Commission. Party leader and the country’s de facto ruler Jarosław Kaczyński called for a referendum on the issue to be held alongside the election.


It’s an effort to replay the scenario that helped the party win power in an election held during the peak of the EU’s migration crisis in 2015. At that time, Kaczyński darkly warned that migrants coming to Europe were carrying “all sorts of parasites and protozoa.” He lambasted the government of the time, led by Tusk’s Civic Platform party, for agreeing to take in some asylum seekers under an EU plan.

But this year, Tusk is fighting back using language straight from PiS’s playbook.


In a series of social media videos earlier this month that have gone viral in Poland, Tusk warned that PiS is trying to distract public attention by denouncing the EU migration plan, which wouldn’t actually see any people arriving in Poland, while opening the door to mass migration from Muslim countries.

Tusk started by referring to the riots sweeping France — echoing the same language used by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki during last month’s European leaders’ summit dealing with the migration issue. To the fury of France, Morawiecki tweeted about the riots and said: “We don’t want such scenes in any city in Europe … stop illegal migration. Safety first.”

Pivoting off the French riots, Tusk said that Kaczyński is “preparing a document that will allow even more people to come from countries like Saudi Arabia, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.” He went on to accuse the government of bringing in 130,000 people from those countries last year, 50 times more than when Tusk’s party was in power in 2015.

“Why is Kaczyński scapegoating strangers and immigrants while wanting to let hundreds of thousands of them in at the same time? Maybe it’s because he wants an internal conflict and Polish citizens to be afraid because that’s when it’s easier for him to rule,” Tusk said.

“Poles must regain control over this country and its borders,” he concluded.


Tusk’s language was denounced by the Left opposition party and human rights NGOs as borderline racist and xenophobic.


But Tusk’s attack on PiS’s confusing migration strategy has thrown the ruling party into disarray.

It’s still going forward with its referendum plans, but backed away from an earlier effort to ease migration rules.