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POLAND: Kaczyński Tape Scandal: PiS Reaction

Following yesterday’s publication by the „Gazeta Wyborcza” daily of Jarosław Kaczyński’s business conversations (full overview in yesterday’s CEC Daily), the ruling PiS party was slow to react in the first part of the day, but launched a coherent narrative towards the evening. Many top PiS figures, albeit not Kaczyński himself, have commented on the publication. The key messages were that Wyborcza and the opposition overhyped the recordings, there is no indication of illegal actions, and that the recordings are actually showing the PiS leader in a positive light.

During a press briefing, Prime Minister Matuesz Morawiecki stated that Kaczyński is the guarantor of integrity, credibility, and reliability in Poland. He also compared the newspaper’s revelations to “unexploded ordnance”, referring to rumours throughout Monday that the publication will be “like a bombshell”. The party’s spokesperson Beata Mazurek argued that Kaczyński acted completely honestly and that the publication is simply another in a series of unfounded attacks that Wyborcza has launched against him throughout the years. Deputy Prime Minister Gowin argued that the opposition has achieved the opposite of what it intended, and portrayed Kaczyński as an honest and lawful businessman. It will likely be many days, if not weeks, before the PiS leader himself comments on the matter.

Apart from serious statements, many PiS politicians, supporters and even key figures such as Interior Minister Joachim Brudziński took to Twitter to ridicule the publication. With the wave of memes, jokes and counter allegations, it will be hard for the opposition to shift back the political narrative to their full advantage. That is unless further tapes are released with more shocking content. If, however, yesterday’s publication was meant to be a smoking gun, PiS may have managed to turn it into a cap gun. Still, the legal case brought against Kaczyński by Gerald Birgfellner is another matter, but in the immediate political aftermath, it will not have big effects on the situation. Many uncertainties still remain; commentators and politicians alike are waiting for the first opinion poll following the publication. While some anxiety remains within PiS that Kaczyński’s image has been permanently altered, at the moment everyone is on board to nip the crisis in the bud.