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Polish Government Set to be Ousted as Opposition Parties Sign Coalition Agreement

Designated PM Donald Tusk Could Be Kept Out of Power for Weeks as President Invites Incumbent to Form Government in Alleged Stalling Manoeuvre

By: Miles Rothoerl

Around three weeks after the United Right alliance lost its majority in the Polish parliamentary elections, the three largest opposition parties have reached a coalition agreement. The deal is likely to oust the Eurosceptic and staunchly conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party from government after more than eight years in power.

Photo by: Klub Lewicy, Flickr 

Former President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, is poised to retake the premiership, having previously held the position between 2007 and 2014. Tusk’s government in waiting is unlikely to be able to take office for several weeks, however, in the face of an alleged stalling manoeuvre by the country’s president.

The agreement follows an upset in the Polish general election last month, which saw opposition parties win a majority of seats in the Sejm, Poland’s lower house of parliament. The catch-all centrist Civic Coalition (KO), the centre-right Third Way and the social democratic New Left (NL), who now look poised to take power, benefited from a record turnout of 74.4 per cent. KO leader, Donald Tusk, hailed “the rebirth of our republic”, adding “I have no doubt that this day will go down in history as a bright day that sees the beginning of a new era”.

Since they took power in 2015, critics have accused the incumbent PiS government of subverting the separation of powers, restricting press freedom and dismantling civil liberties. A near-total ban on abortions introduced in 2020 was met with widespread protests and drew international condemnation. Their anti-LGBTQ+ policies, including the introduction of “LGBT-free zones”, put them on a collision course with the European Commission whilst EU relations declined, most recently over court reforms that critics claimed undermined judicial independence.

The 24-point coalition agreement, signed at a November event in Warsaw, commits to reversing both the abortion ban and the justice reforms, pledges to criminalise anti-LGBTQ+ speech and increase separation between the Church and the State. Tusk has also signalled his intent to rebuild the country’s fractured relationship with the EU in a bid to unlock billions of euros in funds, frozen in response to PiS’ policies.

Additionally, the partners want to raise public sector pay, improve access to state-funded mental healthcare, reduce state influence on school curriculums and increase investment in renewable energy.

The new government is not, however, expected to be able to begin work for several weeks. In a controversial move, Polish President Andrzej Duda, a former PiS politician, chose to nominate incumbent Mateusz Morawiecki as prime minister, citing PiS’ electoral victory. While the party won the most seats in October’s election, they were unsuccessful in securing a majority. To form a government, Morawiecki would thus be reliant on the other parties’ votes, most of whom have ruled out supporting his premiership. Should his leadership bid fail in the Sejm, Tusk will be next in line.

Critics have accused Duda of attempting to delay the transfer of power in an attempt to give PiS time to divert funds, destroy official records, and install allies within the judiciary in anticipation of an inquiry after their departure from government.

Opposition politicians voiced their frustration at the decision. In an interview, New Left MP Agnieszka Dziemanowicz-Bąk claimed that “[Duda] has once again shown that he carries a PiS party card in his pocket and in his heart”.

“We have survived eight years”, she continued, “so, we’ll just wait a bit longer. But we’re ready to form a democratic government, just as the Polish people decided”.


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