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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » December 19, 2007
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Five Deputies Quit PiS
December 19, 2007   
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Five prominent Law and Justice (PiS) deputies Dec. 12 gave up their membership of the grouping, criticizing its leader, former prime minister Jarosław Kaczyński, as a rift inside the party widened.

The party's vice-chairmen Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski and Paweł Zalewski decided to leave after a showdown with Kaczyński. Ujazdowski was minister of culture in the former PiS government led by Kaczyński. PiS moved into opposition following two years in power after losing the country's October parliamentary elections.

Three other PiS deputies, Piotr Krzywicki, Jarosław Sellin and Jerzy Polaczek, who was minister of transport under Kaczyński, also left the party. Ujazdowski and Zalewski issued a statement in which they said they had decided to leave because they no longer trusted Kaczyński and his policies.

Before they turned in their party cards, Zalewski and Ujazdowski were suspended as PiS members in November, along with Ludwik Dorn, another former PiS vice-chairman who was until recently speaker of the Sejm, Poland's lower house of parliament. The suspension followed the three politicians' harsh criticism of Kaczyński as the party's leader. Kaczyński called their critical remarks "a sign of inadmissible disloyalty." All three politicians were prohibited from attending the party's latest convention Dec. 8. Last-ditch talks failed to produce results, and Zalewski and Ujazdowski decided to quit the party; only Dorn opted to stay.

Both Zalewski and Ujazdowski said they did not intend to join another party or start a new political group. They added that their bottom line was to reform PiS and that they were guided by "a belief that internal freedom is a precondition for developing the party and regaining public trust." They also said they wanted PiS to be a modern party that would "positively influence state policy, following the example of center-right parties in Western Europe."

Polaczek said he decided to leave PiS due to "the authoritarian policies" of Kaczyński. He added that suspending Ujazdowski and Zalewski, despite their importance to PiS, breached the party's statutes.

Meanwhile, Kaczyński and his allies criticized those who quit the party and demanded that they give up their parliamentary seats. However, four out of the five (Sellin's decision has yet to be announced) said they will remain in parliament as unaffiliated deputies since they received their Sejm seats "in an election, not from the PiS board."
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