European Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski has publicly intervened in the political election debate in his home country of Poland.
Wojciechowski denounces peasant union leader Michil Kolodziejczak, who is on the candidate list of opposition leader Donald Tusk's Civic Coalition in the upcoming Polish parliamentary elections. Initially, Agrounia planned to participate with its own list.
It is quite unusual for a European Commissioner to publicly address the domestic politics of one of the EU countries at election time, even if it is his own home country. Sometimes in Brussels people turn a blind eye to a one-off 'slip of the tongue', but in this case the eyebrows are increasingly frowned upon.
With his duties and powers, the Polish EU Commissioner has had a lot to do with the subsidization and modernization of Polish agriculture in recent years. Wojciechowski has also frequently 'interfered' with the faltering rural politics of the ruling PiS party with Polish livestock farming, which has been affected by swine fever and avian flu.
This time the Pole openly doubts whether the radical Kolodziejczak is doing his peasant supporters a favor with his 'switch' to the Civic Coalition. Agrounia will continue to exist as its own party; it is now only about a combination of attractive Poles on one anti-PiS candidate list.
Some of the Agrounia farmers do not agree and have joined a smaller conservative rural party.
Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki and PiS party leader Kaczynski accuse Kolodziejczak of now siding with the pro-European and urban liberal opposition. The announcement so close to the parliamentary elections comes as a shock to many, given that Kolodziejczak still strongly criticized Tusk cs (and all other parties, for that matter) last year.
Despite this, the farmer's union leader now seems to be putting aside his criticism in order to overthrow the PiS government. The AgroUnia leader called his candidacy with the Burgeralliantie 'of national importance', with the aim of beating the conservative right-wing government party Law and Justice (PiS).
The sizeable population of the Polish countryside has been dissatisfied for several years with the inadequate agricultural course of the PiS party. But in recent months, PiS ministers have seized on controversial Ukrainian grain exports via Polish territory to take a more pro-agricultural course. The PuS party has also released much more money for it.
Reactions to Kolodziejczak's decision have been mixed. Initial reactions show that there is a lot of support among supporters of the Burgeralliantie for Agrounia's accession. They see it as a strategic move that increases the opposition's chances. Nevertheless, farmers' unions emphasize that they maintain their own party, Agrounia, and that the alliance is a temporary collaboration to achieve a common goal.
Kolodziejczak's decision could become significant given the current poll gap between the PiS and the liberal opposition, which is only a few percentage points.