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Election 2011 – Tusk: 'No change in government till New Year'

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 12.10.2011 08:19
Donald Tusk is to propose no changes in the composition of the government, following parliamentary elections last Sunday, till the end of Poland's EU presidency on 31 December.
Donald Tusk; photo - PAP/Radek Pietruszka

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08.11 CET: Tusk will meet with President Bronislaw Komorowski at 11.00 CET this morning where he will propose, “not to alter the composition of the government till the end of the Polish EU presidency,” he told the Polityka magazine in his first interview since the elections, where his party, Civic Platform, became the largest party in the lower house of parliament for a second consecutive term.

Though talks on the composition of a new coalition government will continue, only “at the beginning of the New Year, along with deputy prime minister [Waldemar] Pawlak, will I propose a significant reconstruction of the government”.

This means that the present Civic Platform/Polish Peasant's Party coalition will remain in power till the end of the year with the same composition of ministers.

In the interview Tusk praises the work of “Ewa Kopacz [health minister], Elzbieta Bienkowska [regional development minister] Jacek Rostowski [finance minister] and Radek Sikorski [foreign affairs]. We highly appreciate Michal Boni [chairman of the Council of Ministers]. Tomasz Siemoniak has started well as [the new] minister of defence. Jerzy Miller has done huge work [as interior minister] but I am thinking about reorganising his department,” Tusk told the magazine.

On the future direction of a new coalition government Tusk said: “I will not change my way of thinking about politics,” said the centre-right politician, “or about what is important for Poland. [We must] give an elementary sense of order, stability and predictability. This is a basic condition in going forward. I believe we have been and will be a good government in difficult times.”

Following Tusk's meeting with President Komorowski this morning, the head of state will meet with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Law and Justice, the largest opposition party in parliament and then with the three other parties which gained seats in the new lower house (Sejm).

08.55 CET: Since Bronislaw Komorowski was elected as head of state in the summer of 2010 – taking over as president from the late Lech Kaczynski who died in the Smolensk air disaster - Jaroslaw Kaczynski's relations with the Presidential Palace have been strained. Of his meeting with Komorowski today, Jaroslaw Kaczynski said yesterday: “I will only be informing him that Law and Justice is the largest opposition party in parliament.”

Talks today could be short, then.

09.23 CET: The Gazeta Wyborcza daily is reporting an informant close to President Komorowski as saying that he is not pleased that Donald Tusk has said that there will be no change in government till the new year without consulting with him first. “[Komorowski] appoints the prime minister [as head of state]. [Tusk] forgets that he has a say in the matter.”

Head of the PM's Office, Slawomir Nowak, however, told the TVP public broadcaster this morning: “Relations between PM and President are friendly”.

On Tusk's announcement of no change in the government till the end of the EU presidency, Nowak said: “I understand that this is one of the scenarios which maybe considered.”

09.55 CET: Jerzy Buzek, the President of the European Parliament, has said that a Kiev court's decision to imprison former Ukrainian premier Yulia Tymoshenko for pushing through a deal with Russian gas giant Gazprom in 2009 revives “Soviet” practices.

10.10 CET: TVP television is reporting that Donald Tusk would like to move health minister Ewa Kopacz to Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, a prestigious position in Polish politics, and move Grzegorz Schetyna back into a ministerial position. Tusk wants to do this as a sign of how well she has done at the health ministry but also that he is serious about promoting women into powerful positions. These changes would only happen in the new year, however.

10.30 CET: Political parties spent 80 million zloty (18 million euros) on the election campaign, estimates 'independent media house' Equinox Polska.

10.35 CET: It has been noted there has been a curious lack of tweets coming from politicians since Sunday's election. Even Poland's foreign minister Radek Sikorski – a regular tweeter – was silent on Twitter after the Tymoshenko court verdict yesterday.

11.00 CET: Robert Biedron, the co-founder of the Campaign against Homophobia, is among those to have won a seat in Sunday's general election and is the country's first openly gay MP.

11.40 CET: Polish Radio's news service, IAR, is reporting that head of PSL and deputy prime minister in the previous coalition, Waldemar Pawlak, wants to add the environment ministry to the three ministries his party currently commands – economy, agriculture and labour.

11.47 CET: Archbishop of Gdansk, Tadeusz Goclowski, has told Polish Radio that the 10 percent of the electorate voting for the anti-clerical Palikot Movement on Sunday is a “cold shower for the Catholic church” in Poland. Janusz Palikot is in favour of a clearer separation between chuirch and state.

12.45 CET: Leading Polish feminist Wanda Nowicka, a member of Janusz Palikot's 'rainbow coalition' of newly elected MPs, has confirmed that she has applied for the job of deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament, the Sejm.

13.01 CET: Donald Tusk has wrapped up his meeting with President Bronislaw Komorowski on possible government coalitions. Next up: the conservative Jaroslaw Kaczynski who will meet the president at 13.30 CET. His party, Law and Justice (PiS) will not be entering into coalition talks with Donald Tusk, however.

13.30 CET: At a press conference today, left-liberal Janusz Palikot says that he is prepared to support the government “for two months”, meaning till the end of the year, which Donald Tusk says he wants to wait for to get the EU presidency out of the way before forming a new coalition: but after that Palikot wants a “government of experts”.

13.50 CET: Jaroslaw Kaczynski said yesterday ahead of his meeting with President Komorowski: "This is a normal [initiative] associated with the constitutional powers of the president. So it is a formality that I will be attending the meeting. But what I can tell the President? I can say that we are in opposition. Nothing more."

On Thursday, Komorowski will have talks with Janusz Palikot and PSL's Waldemar Pawlak. Then on Friday he will have talks with left wing SLD chief Grzegorz Napieralski, who has informed that he will not be standing for re-selection as leader of the centre-left party, which received just 8 percent of the vote on Sunday.

14.38 CET: Kaczynski, whose party Law and Justice won 29.89 percent of the vote on Sunday, has emerged from the Presidential Palace after a 30-minute meeting with Komorowski. He did not speak to journalists, however.

That it for now. See you tomorrow for latest developments.

Online reporting by Peter Gentle

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