- Polish President Andrzej Duda on Monday named Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, a member of the right-wing Law and Justice party, as interim leader of the eastern European transitional government.
- Morawiecki lost control of parliament last month to a centrist, pro-European coalition led by former prime minister Donald Tusk.
- Moriavecki’s appointment to the caretaker role angered political rivals, who accused Duda of buying his party several more weeks in power while a potential Tusk-led government is assembled.
Poland faced a controversial and protracted transition of power on Monday as the president named the outgoing prime minister to lead the new government in an ad hoc capacity, angering a pro-European Union alliance with a strong majority in the new parliament. Parliament has overwhelmingly elected a speaker from the alliance who must wait longer to lead.
Political opponents accused President Andrzej Duda, who is allied with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s right-wing Law and Justice party, of acting against the will of voters by giving Morawiecki up to four weeks to lead. They accused Morawiecki’s conservative government, in power for eight years, of continuing to appoint allies to government posts.
Morawiecki had proposed resigning his conservative government as required after his party lost its parliamentary majority in last month’s election, but Duda within hours reappointed him as prime ministerial candidate.
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The coalition of pro-EU parties is committed to restoring democratic standards. Its candidate for prime minister is Donald Tusk, the centrist and former prime minister.
Morawiecki in a speech to parliament expressed the desire to build a new government that would transcend party divisions. When he appealed for support, his critics responded with laughter.
Duda, whose term lasts another year and a half, is expected to have difficult relations with the new legislature.
The lower house, or Sejm, in its first vote chose center-right Szymon Holownia, an ally of Tusk, as speaker. Holownia, 47, a former co-host of Poland’s Got Talent and a rising star in Polish politics, was backed by 265 lawmakers. A candidate from Morawiecki’s party received 193.
“After this vote there is no doubt that there is a majority in the Sejm that is ready to take responsibility for Poland,” said Holownia, leader of the Poland 2050 party.
He stressed that this parliament will no longer serve the government by pushing controversial laws, as was the case with law and justice.
Among Holownia’s first decisions was to remove the barriers the Law and Justice-led government put up around the parliament building after mass protests. As he spoke, activists and others were already unfastening them.
Duda called on the legislature to defend dissent but warned he would use his presidential veto power to defend “controversial” solutions.
“Constitutional order must be maintained, I will not agree to any circumvention or bending of the law,” Duda said with a laugh. Law and Justice and Duda himself have been accused by critics of violating procedures in recent years.
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Tusk and his allies accuse Duda of not respecting the will of the voters by not giving them the first chance to govern. His coalition is committed to rebuilding the rule of law in Poland and strengthening foreign alliances and security at a time of war in neighboring Ukraine.
Tusk says his future government will work to get billions of euros in EU funding frozen due to law and justice laws that have been criticized as eroding the independence of the courts.
Law and Justice received 194 seats in the 460-member Sejm. The winning coalition holds 248 seats. It includes parties ranging from the conservative to the left. They ran separately but promise to work together after eight years of ruling Law and Justice. In the Holownia vote, they were supported by the far-right Confederation party.
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The 100-seat Senate, where the Tusk-led coalition won an overwhelming majority, held its first meeting on Monday afternoon.