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Poland’s ruling party opens campaign pledging new benefits

September 7, 2019
Leader of Poland's ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczynski , right, arrives for a memorial ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Leader of Poland's ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczynski , right, arrives for a memorial ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The leader of Poland’s nationalist ruling party promised higher earnings, adherence to Catholic values and more judicial system changes as he started campaigning Saturday for next month’s parliamentary election.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski went to the city of Lublin in one of Poland’s poorer eastern regions on to launch the right-wing Law and Justice party’s campaign for the Oct. 13 parliamentary election.

Kaczynski vowed to build a “Polish version of prosperity” by increasing minimal wages and payments to retirees.

Social benefits to families with children and adherence to traditional, Catholic values helped make his party Poland’s most popular political force by far, so they are not a new campaign strategy. Opinion polls indicate about 40% of eligible voters back Law and Justice.

Kaczynski, 70, said that if voters give the party another four-year mandate, the next Law and Justice government would push for more changes in the judiciary. Actions by the current government, such as trying to change the makeup of Poland’s Supreme Court by lowering the retirement age for judges, were criticized by European Union leaders as steps that would erode democracy.

The “power of the courts has nothing to do with democracy, only serves the oligarchy,” Kaczynski said without elaborating.

The powerful party leader reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage, euthanasia and abortion on demand. He said that in predominantly Catholic Poland, the Catholic Church represents the “one and only” value system.

“Outside (the church), there is nihilism which destroys everything and builds nothing,” Kaczynski said.

Poland’s main political opposition grouping, Civic Coalition, launched its campaign Friday with a social program that largely followed the ruling party’s spending policies.

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