Exeat Jaroslaw Gowin - the former justice minister from Krakow quits Civic Platform on Monday, 9 September 2013. Photo: PAP/Bartlomiej Zborowski
The former justice minister quit his post just weeks after a failed attempt at taking over the reigns of centre-right Civic Platform in a party ballot amid growing tensions between the Krakow-based politician and his boss, Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
Gowin quit the party citing proposed changes to the pension system would be a step too far for him to remain there. Earlier, he and one other Civic Platform politician – John Godson, who has also since left Civic Platform to become an independent MP – abstained over a government bill changing the 2013 budget law, driving PM Tusk to threaten rebels with banishment from Civic Platform’s ranks if they broke party discipline.
Allies close to hand?
A number of politicians – including former members of the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) who have gone on to set up new political groupings – have voiced hopes of future cooperation with Gowin, labelled as a social conservative and free marketeer.
Plans to create a new group, centred around economic liberalism and conservative social values, between splinter politicians Przemyslaw Wipler, Pawel Kowal – and now Jaroslaw Gowin – have been on the table since Friday, Rzeczpospolita daily claims.
Conservative politician Przemyslaw Wipler, who left the Law and Justice party to create the new Republicans association, has said that he hoped Jaroslaw Gowin will include him in his political plans.
Wipler – an economic liberal whose views did not match opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s policies –raised hopes on Monday of a “common path” between the two parliamentarians.
Pawel Kowal, another splinter politician who also left Law and Justice in 2010 to form Poland Comes First– which has been virtually non-existent in polls since Poland’s last general election in 2011 – told Polish Radio that he would like to work with Jaroslaw Gowin.
“Gowin’s departure brings a new quality to Polish politics,” Kowal, currently serving as an MEP said, adding that the Krakow MP’s departure from Civic Platform gives an opportunity to create a grouping of centrist politicians.
Meanwhile, John Godson – Poland’s first black MP and social conservative who also left party ranks recently – has said that he would like to form a party with Jaroslaw Gowin. While being socially conservative and economically liberal, “this [future] party would not be as obstinate as PiS,” adding that such a grouping is necessary if Civic Platform were to take a left turn.
While Gowin’s resignation comes as no surprise to the majority of political observers, the move has sparked a flurry of mixed emotions among Poland’s MPs.
Head of the Civic Platform parliamentary club, Rafal Grupinski, said on Monday that Gowin’s departure “clears the air” within the ruling party, although warned that the former justice minister will find it hard to realise his political designs outside the party.
However, “it is not a good sign if the candidate for [the party] leadership quits,” Civic Platform politician Andrzej Halicki said in an interview on Monday, adding that he hoped that they would work “not together, but side by side” in the future.
Political rivals from across the spectrum have also commented Gowin’s exit from the ruling party. Marek Sawicki, a former agricultural minister from the junior coalition Polish Peasants’ Party, is not surprised by the move, although he underlined that the coalition is now under “considerable threat”.
Gowin’s resignation leaves the ruling coalition with just 232 out of 460 members of the Sejm lower house of parliament. The next general election in Poland is scheduled for 2015 but another resignation from Civic Platform would make pushing through legislation on some issues difficult for PM Tusk.
Leader of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), Leszek Miller, is sceptical about Gowin’s exodus from Civic Platform’s ranks. “Gowin will soon find out how hard it is to create a new party should he wish to do so,” he said.
Mariusz Blaszczak, a senior MP for Law and Justice, the largest opposition party in the lower house, was quick to comment, stating Gowin’s resignation is proof of the “disintegration of Civic Platform”. (jb)