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Poland's ruling party PiS posts anti-German election ad

September 11, 2023

Poland's ruling nationalists have unveiled an election ad that shows Germany pressuring Warsaw to raise the country's retirement age.

Election pro-turnout posters prepared by Action Democracies and placed in Nowy Kleparz
The election will run alongside four refererenda, including one on retirement ageImage: Klaudia Radecka/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Poland's conservative ruling Law and Justice party PiS released a political campaign video on Monday that suggests Germany is seeking to control the country's opposition.

In its campaign to win a third term in office, PiS has leaned heavily on anti-German sentiment, accusing its opponent, former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, of being a German puppet.

What happens in the advert?

The advert, posted on the social media network X, formerly known as Twitter, uses satellite imagery to hone in on the German embassy in Warsaw. It uses the sound of Richard Wagner's "Ride of The Valkyries" to build up a tense atmosphere as a member of the German embassy staff places a call.

It shows a cat's head turn as a phone rings out in the office of famously feline-loving PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

"Guten Tag," says the caller, before continuing in heavily German-accented Polish. "I am calling from the German embassy and I would like to speak to the Chancellor about your 'Rentenalter', that is the retirement age in Poland. We believe it should be the same as it was under Prime Minister Tusk."

An unimpressed-looking Kaczynski responds: "Please apologize to the Chancellor, but it is the Polish people who will decide about this issue in a referendum," he says. "Tusk isn't here anymore, and those habits are finished."

Why was the ad released now?

Poland is holding elections on October 15 and there will be four referenda alongside the vote — including one on retirement age.

The ruling party has long criticized Tusk, who leads the opposition liberal Civic Coalition (KO), by hinting that he is acting at Germany's behest.

Poland marks Armed Forces Day with military parade

Tusk, who served as prime minister from 2007 to 2014, raised the retirement age to 67 from a previous 65 for men and 60 for women.

When PiS came to power, it reversed the move. Former President of the European Council Tusk says he does not plan to raise it again.

A spokesperson for the German foreign office told the Associated Press that it did not comment on Poland's domestic political debates, including the commercial.

Poland is also set to hold referenda on privatization, hardening the border with Belarus and rejecting migrants under an EU deal.

The opposition says the plebiscites are an exercise to mobilize government supporters and demonize opponents with a string of loaded questions.

rc/jcg (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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