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Poland's Kaczynski says party will have a new leader in 2023

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The leader of the right-wing party that has governed Poland since 2015 said Sunday he plans to step down at some point to make way for a new leader in 2023. Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski is a lawmaker without a Cabinet post but is Poland's most powerful politician, forging the nation's politics.

The 70-year-old Kaczynski said at a "family picnic" campaign event that "four years from now, someone else will stand in my place because I am of a certain age." Under Law and Justice, Poland's government has instituted generous family benefits that are popular with the country's citizens and heave earned the party wide voter backing. It also has taken control of the judiciary in a way that has put Poland at odds with the European Union which says that the nation's rule of law and democratic values are under threat.

Kaczynski dismissed the accusation of being "dictatorial." "It is nonsense," Kaczynski said. "If there was dictatorship there would have been no opposition," and no public criticism of the party, Kaczynski told a rural community in Kuczki-Kolonia.

"We are an island of freedom in Europe," he said. Poland's government is also critical of EU ways and wants more decision-making powers. Kaczynski and his twin, Lech Kaczynski, were active in the Solidarity democracy movement in the 1980s and later in democratic Poland's politics as party founders and leaders. In 2006-07 they held the nation's top positions, when Lech Kaczynski was the president and Jaroslaw Kaczynski was the prime minister until 2007.

President Lech Kaczynski was killed in a plane crash in 2010 and Jaroslaw Kaczynski has worn black suits and black ties ever since, in a sign or mourning.

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