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Zbigniew Rau, appointed by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki last Thursday (August 20), will be replacing Jacek Czaputowicz as the head of Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is a professor of law and an expert on political and legal doctrines. Before running for office in the last parliamentary election, he served as the governor of the Łódź province and held a seat in the senate during the first Law and Justice government in 2005-2007. Although officially Rau has no party affiliation, he ran for parliament from the same list as members of Law and Justice, and represents the party’s Parliamentary Club in the Sejm. He is a member of the Parliament’s Infrastructure Committee and the Subcommittee on Air Transportation. During his time as an MP from November 13, 2019 (i.e. since the beginning of the current parliamentary term), he also chaired the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Despite his membership in several parliamentary committees, as an MP, Rau did not appear especially active. During his term, he took the parliamentary floor only once, presenting a report prepared by the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and another report of the Foreign Affairs Committee regarding a draft bill on the ratification of an extradition agreement between Poland and Argentina. He also submitted one interpellation regarding the use of wood for energy production.

Zbigniew Rau. Running for parliament on a homophobic platform

Rau has entered the parliament on an aggressively homophobic platform. On his social media profiles and in pamphlets distributed around the area of Łódź, he labelled sexual minorities as “the civilization of death”. As part of his political programme, he promised to introduce a law banning sexual education in schools. The openly homophobic elements in his campaign have led to a feud between him and the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, with Rau accusing the latter of trying to deny parents their constitutional right to raise their children as they please. The Commissioner responded by pointing out Rau’s lack of knowledge in terms of constitutional provisions.

Getting him only 6833 votes, Rau’s camping turned out to be far from successful. If not for two other Law and Justice candidates, Waldemar Buda and Piotr Gliński, he wouldn’t have entered the parliament at all. Their favourable results allowed to pull two other candidates from the list into the parliament, including Rau and Włodzimierz Tomaszewski.

The new Minister of Foreign Affairs "will be able to talk"

After the parliamentary election, there was a wide-spread belief among the members of the ruling party that Rau’s rather weak performance and lack of broad appeal had been a result of the openly homophobic platform he ran on. His former colleagues claim that using such radical anti-LGBT+ campaign slogans wasn’t even his own idea- if anyone should be blamed for it, it’s his incompetent advisors- they said. Nevertheless, the fact remains: Rau never distanced himself from his homophobic views.

As the chair of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, he is said to have been a person who also listens to his political opponents. – I have no doubt that in his role as Poland’s chief diplomat, he’ll be able to talk with representatives of any country- claims Władysław T. Bartoszewski, a PSL-Kukiz’15 Parliamentary Club MP and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

As a governor of the Łódź province, Rau has been an avid supporter of Law and Justice’s party line and an active proponent of the decommunization act- an effort to change the names of streets that remind of the Soviet era (an example of that is a failed political battle over a Lech Kaczynski square). Shortly before the last local government election, Rau became involved in a smear campaign targeted at president Hanna Zdanowska, a representative of the Civic Coalition (KO) running for re-election. Trying to find legal loopholes, Law and Justice wanted to question the validity of her electoral victory and oust her from office. While on the local level the campaign only backfired, Rau’s involvement has drawn the attention of top party decision-makers and won him the necessary recognition.

As a university professor, Rau published a book with the title "Forgotten freedom: in search of the historical foundation of liberalism ". In it, he conceptualised liberalism in a very conservative way, distinguishing between the „pursuit of perfection” and giving in to ones own impulsive desires. He perceived the latter as incompatible with the idea of liberalism.

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