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English Section

UPDATE 2: Polish ruling party leaders meet amid coalition crisis

21.09.2020 13:45
Polish ruling party leaders gathered in Warsaw on Monday afternoon for an emergency meeting amid political tensions that could potentially result in the breakup of the conservative coalition which has governed the country since 2015.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrives to attend the emergency meeting of his ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party in central Warsaw on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrives to attend the emergency meeting of his ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party in central Warsaw on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020.Photo: PAP/Wojciech Olkuśnik

Ryszard Terlecki, a senior lawmaker with the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, told reporters in the morning that the meeting was expected to "make decisions about the future shape of the coalition."

Terlecki, who heads his party's parliamentary caucus and also serves as a deputy Speaker of the lower house of parliament, said that two junior partners in the country's coalition government “must restrain their appetites a bit.”

He added: “If they do this, if they understand the seriousness of their situation, we will try to come to an understanding.”

Ryszard Terlecki, a senior politician and lawmaker with Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, briefs reporters outside the party's Warsaw headquarters earlier this month. Ryszard Terlecki, a senior politician and lawmaker with Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, briefs reporters outside the party's Warsaw headquarters earlier this month. Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak

Law and Justice, allied with two smaller groupings in a United Right coalition, secured a second term in power in a parliamentary ballot on October 13.

The three partners have recently been trying to hammer out a new coalition agreement and decide on the allocation of ministerial posts in a long-expected government reshuffle. The talks have now been halted.

Rebel MPs suspended

Monday's meeting comes after 15 rebel MPs from Law and Justice, the senior coalition partner, were suspended as party members at the end of last week amid a political crisis that officials said could result in early elections.

Agriculture Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski was among those who broke party discipline to vote against an animal rights bill strongly backed by the grouping’s leader.

The vote saw tensions coming to a boil between three conservative parties which have together ruled Poland for five years.

Recriminations started flying around after some politicians from the junior partners in the ruling coalition refused to support the bill, which seeks to ban fur farming and the production of halal and kosher meat for export markets.

Coalition 'practically nonexistent'

Terlecki warned on Friday that a minority government or early elections in Poland could not be ruled out.

He said at the time: "At the moment the situation is such that the coalition is practically nonexistent.”

Terlecki added that if early elections were to be held, his Law and Justice party would contest them alone.

The United Right coalition, which is headed by Law and Justice and also comprises the strongly conservative Solidarna Polska party and the Porozumienie (Agreement) grouping, has governed Poland since winning a landslide in a 2015 parliamentary election.

Plan to reshuffle gov't

Poland’s conservative leader Jarosław Kaczyński, who heads Law and Justice, said last month that the coalition government would undergo a reshuffle by the end of September or in early October at the latest.

Kaczyński said earlier this summer: “This is a plan that includes a far-reaching reduction in the number of ministries and a merger of various departments so that they are overseen by a single minister.”

He elaborated at the time that the number of government ministries would be cut to “around 12,” from 20 at the moment.

Polish conservative leader Jarosław Kaczyński. Polish conservative leader Jarosław Kaczyński. Photo: PAP/Mateusz Marek

Kaczyński has said that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will keep his job as head of government.

“The prime minister will stay on, but the government will be restructured so as to eliminate a situation in which some decisions have to go through several different ministries,” Kaczyński told public broadcaster Polish Radio in early August.

He indicated at the time that the bottom line was to make the decision-making process within the government less "dispersed" and more efficient.

(gs-pk)

Source: PAP