|Janusz Palikot is once again at the center of controversy|
Polish politics’ enfant terrible Janusz Palikot has been battered by a firestorm of criticism after some poorly chosen remarks during an interview in early February.
The politician, who leads the socially liberal opposition Palikot’s Movement party, had been on a campaign to remove Wanda Nowicka from the grouping. This came after Ms Nowicka, a deputy speaker of the Sejm, Poland’s lower house of parliament, had refused to step down from her post despite losing the support of her party for having accepted a controversial bonus.
Mr Palikot had wanted to install Anna Grodzka, Poland’s first transsexual member of parliament, in the position. But Ms Grodzka’s candidacy never even came to a vote, after a majority of MPs voted to allow Ms Nowicka to keep her position.
Mr Palikot was visibly furious at not having gotten his way and at Ms Nowicka’s obstinacy. And his anger came out during the interview with television station TVN24.
“It may be that Wanda Nowicka wants to be raped, but not by me. I’m not the type of person who is suited for that type of work,” he said, while denying an earlier accusation from Ms Nowicka that he had threatened her while asking her to resign from the deputy speaker position.
The response was immediate and overwhelming. Ms Nowicka got in a jab, saying that Mr Palikot “must be suffering from a nervous breakdown. He should see a doctor immediately.”
Joanna Senyszyn, an MP in another opposition party, the Democratic Left Alliance, did not mince her words either. “He must have lost his mind as well as his bearings on the political compass. I can only assume [former President] Aleksander Kwaśniewski won’t have the time for [Mr Palikot’s] games,” she said in an interview with the station, referring to Mr Palikot’s proposal to join forces with the former president for upcoming elections to the European Parliament.
If Mr Kwaśniewski were to turn him down, it would be a significant blow to Mr Palikot’s standing, which has risen since he brought his new party to parliament as the third-biggest grouping in 2011.
Failed master plan
The reasons behind Mr Palikot’s meltdown might have deeper roots than that, though.
According to daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, the removal of Ms Nowicka from her office was to be only the first step in a strategy to get rid of the entire Sejm presidium (the speaker and deputy speakers). Apparently, he had the whole thing planned down to the props.
He is supposed to have had a big demonstration planned, with feeding troughs and pigs’ heads illustrating how members of the presidium received undeserved bonuses which they refused to return.
Though there was a certain amount of public outrage after it was revealed that the members of the presidium had received bonuses amounting to a total of some zł.245,000 while an economic slowdown was hitting average Poles, they each later promised to donate their bonus money to various charities.
But Mr Palikot’s scheme to remove the Sejm presidium went down the drain when Prime Minister Donald Tusk instructed members of his ruling Civic Platform party to vote against Ms Nowicka’s removal.
The fiasco might have stronger repercussions for Mr Palikot, including the possible breakup of his party. Civic Platform MPs have made it clear that members of Palikot’s Movement would be welcome in their ranks (Mr Palikot himself was once a member).
After nearly a week of internal debate, Ms Nowicka was finally expelled from Palikot’s Movement last Wednesday, leaving the party without representation in the presidium.
“There won’t be another deputy seat for Palikot’s Movement,” Grzegorz Schetyna, deputy leader of Civic Platform said in a radio interview with RMF FM. He added, “The Sejm has
already made its decision to allow Ms Nowicka to remain in her post.”
From Warsaw Business Journal
Biedroń: Europe Plus wants to 'build an alternative' to the status quo
Building a new center-left
Civic Platform with 32% support
Kwaśniewski's move riles SLD
Migration and remittances in the euro zone periphery
BY Stratfor Global Intelligence
Commemorating Europe Day, EU faces key challenges
BY Stratfor Global Intelligence