Fighting back: Poland’s conservatives change their guard ahead of European and US elections 

The leader of PiS Jarosław Kaczyński doubles down on his defence of Polish sovereignty in opposition to proposed changes in EU treaties being debated in the European Parliament EPA-EFE/Leszek Szymanski


PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński has demanded the resignation of his party’s top brass MEPs, in order to substitute them ahead of this year’s European elections.

Kaczyński demanded the resignation of Professor Ryszard Legutko, Janusz Wojciechowski and Gabriel Beszłej to be replaced in the leadership by Dominik Tarczyński and Jacek Saryusz-Wolski. The position of Mateusz Morawiecki has also been strengthened. 

Secretary General of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) in the European Parliament, Gabriel Beszłej, is to be replaced by Andrzej Sadoś, ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the European Union from 2018 to 2023.

Tarczyński, a journalist by profession, will replace Legutko as head of the PiS delegation in the European Parliament.

Saryusz-Wolski, a career diplomat who has served in Brussels and is a former Vice President of the European Parliament, is allegedly earmarked to be ECR’s candidate for President of the European Commission. He is a political heavy-weight, instrumental in Poland’s accession to the EU.

This is an “empire strikes back” move by Kaczyński. Tusk used the EU brilliantly, capitalising  on the best public affairs and strategic comms advice that (EPP and German) money could buy. He managed to undermine the legitimacy of his opponents, anathemise conservatism as a whole, and turn PiS into Europe’s pariah.

It now looks like PiS, ECR’s powerhouse together with the Brothers of Italy, aims at giving Tusk some of his own medicine, getting back at him through Brussels.

Poland’s conservatives have a strong case to make: Warsaw’s current government is undermining the rule of law and engaging in retaliatory acts against its predecessors across all institutions. Tusk’s fixation against Donald Trump could also threaten Europe’s commitment to its transatlantic alliance.

Saryusz Wolski has a long-standing feud with Donald Tusk. In 2017, he challenged Tusk in the fight for the President of the European Council. As a result, Saryusz-Wolski was expelled from the Civic Platform and the European People’s Party.

The changes in the PiS and ECR have also taken place in view of the US elections in November. Polish conservatives wish to build stronger contacts with Donald Trump and offer their support. If he is elected, they will then enjoy a special relationship with the White House.

PiS has been key in establishing conservatism as a political force in Brussels through the ECR. Kaczyński’s latest moves mean to show not only that Polish conservatives are back in the game, but that they also intend to take centre stage in future developments.

Konstantinos Bogdanos served as a member of the Greek parliament from 2019 to 2023