Poland’s Heartland Would Rather Keep E.U. Money Than Break With Bloc - The New York Times
Oct 27, 2021 2 mins, 18 secs

Relations with Brussels, the seat of the bloc’s executive, have become so frayed that the ruling Law and Justice party and its supporters in Warsaw have tossed ever more incendiary verbal bombs, threatening to “set fire to Europe” and reviling the European Union as a bullying “colonial” force.

The Polish prime minister has even talked of a ‘third world war.”.

As for claims by hard-line nationalists in Warsaw that the European Union is an “occupier” akin to the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, “nobody really believes that,” said Mr.

Many farmers in the area, the backbone of the local economy and a deep well of votes for Law and Justice, would have trouble staying afloat without subsidies from Brussels, he said.

Senior officials in Brussels and European politicians have denounced the ruling as an intolerable threat to the foundations of the union that cannot stand if Poland wants to stay a member.

“You are sleepwalking toward an exit from the European Union,” a German member of the European Parliament told the Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, during a heated debate on Poland last week at a session of the legislature in Strasbourg, France.

Leszek Mezynski, a retired dairy farmer and deputy head of the regional council, said the conservative district wanted to keep out migrants and liberal ideas like gay marriage to avoid “civilizational suicide.” But it is more concerned, he said, about losing the economic benefits that flow from European farm subsidies, funding for new roads and other large dollops of cash.

Warnings that Poland is jeopardizing its membership have left the ruling party vulnerable to accusations by the opposition leader, Donald Tusk, that the government, for all its patriotic bluster, has effectively aligned itself with Moscow by undermining European unity.

Tusk, a former Polish prime minister and, until 2019, president of the European Council in Brussels, drew tens of thousands of people chanting “we are staying” to a noisy pro-Europe protest in central Warsaw.

Far more worrying to the ruling party is the unease felt in its rural base.

The school, too, has been helped by money from Brussels, which provided aid for new insulation and a preschool.

They have repeatedly demanded that Poland dismantle it, and reverse other changes to the judicial system introduced by the ruling party.

Ultimate decision-making power in Warsaw, however, rests not with the prime minister, but with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, 72, the ruling party’s deeply conservative and unpredictable leader.

Piotr Perkowski, a 43-year-old farmer who gets European subsidies and used to vote for Law and Justice, said, “I definitely won’t vote for them now.” The government took money from the European Union to build a new water-pumping system, he said, but did not connect his house to it, leaving his family without running water.


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