Libertas to cut links with controversial Polish political party

Thu, Mar 19, 2009, 00:00

LIBERTAS IS reportedly distancing itself from the League of Polish Families (LPR), a key political ally in its European election campaign in Poland, after its leader was charged with drink driving.

The moved, confirmed by a Libertas official to Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, comes as the government in Warsaw announced a new Bill to reform Polish public television and remove its controversial director, an LPR member and former skinhead.

Libertas founder Declan Ganley appeared with members of the extreme-right, ultra-Catholic LPR at the launch of the Polish wing of the party to contest the June European elections. LPR politicians saw it as a chance to boost their dwindling political relevance two years after failing to make it into the Polish parliament.

But expectations of a revival in the fortunes of a party weakened by infighting and splits are dwindling further after its leader, Miroslaw Orzechowski, was charged with ramming two cars while drunk in Lodz earlier this month.

Police were called by the passengers of the other cars and Mr Orzechowski was found to be over the legal limit. “First he hit my car, then he also scratched the car that was standing near mine,” a witness told Polish television. “My wife hit her hand on the front of Mr Orzechowski’s car to make him stop.”

Mr Orzechowski admits drinking wine before the incident but denies he was driving his car. He later resigned as leader of LPR. He is a familiar face in the Polish media: as deputy education minister he questioned the theory of evolution and called for all homosexual teachers to be fired.

In a separate development, the centre-right government of Donald Tusk has moved to purge public broadcaster Telewizja Polska (TVP) of political appointees made by the last government, of which LPR was a junior partner.

A key target is TVP director Piotr Farfal, an LPR member and former editor of the anti-Semitic youth magazine Front. “We do not accept cowards, collaborators or Jews. We are the future!” he wrote in a now notorious article for the magazine headlined “Why Be a Skinhead?” Mr Farfal portrays his remarks as youthful indiscretions.

Last week, French-German public broadcaster Arte announced that it was cancelling its 15-year co-operation with TVP because, it said, Mr Farfal’s views were incompatible with Arte’s “philosophy based on intercultural exchange”.

A spokesperson for Libertas declined to comment on whether Libertas still had contacts with LPR members, saying only that it “has never allied itself with political parties in Poland”.