Just four days after the parliamentary elections in Poland and the new political reality in Warsaw is slowly settling in. What do we know?
A New PM in sight – unlikely
Mateusz Morawiecki was or is the candidate for the Prime Minister job. But before this question is answered by the PiS chair, Jarosław Kaczyński, he needs to appease his coalition partners.
As a surprise as it may sound the position of the PiS chair is… reduced after the victorious win on Sunday. Almost 44% is less that 45% PiS had in the European elections earlier this year, some critics indicate. More importantly, Mr Kaczyński’s coalition partners within the larger PiS family are empowered following the Sunday vote.
There are two of them. One is Mr Zbigniew Ziobro, the justice minister. He has 17-18 MPs in the new Sejm. Apparently he is in negotiation for an upgrade (vice-PM?), even if he denies it publicly. Also, his party, Solidary Poland, PiS’s ally, would like to see a new ministry allocation. Most importantly, however, there is a conflict between Mr Ziobro and Mr Morawiecki. The media report that Mr Ziobro would like to see Mr Morawiecki go.
The other PiS coalition partner is Mr Jarosław Gowin of the Agreement (Porozumienie) Party. He also has about 18 MPs and has been a vice-PM and science minister in the outgoing government. His party is considered a more centrist-leaning in the larger pool of PiS universe. Mr Gowin’s ministers talk decarbonisation and focus on the economy, rather than social giveaways or justice reforms. They still vote in line, though.
However, Mr Gowin was Mr Tusk’s justice minister… with 18 MPs he could sway the majority towards the opposition. However unlikely, the political arithmetic gives Mr Gowin an upper hand in his negotiations with the PiS leadership. Could be that the new foreign minister is an affiliate of Mr Gowin. It seems the days of Mr Czaputowicz, the foreign minister, are numbered.
Luring the Senators
“The loss of the Senate is not a grave thing” is the message of the PiS Chairman to the party. Yet, on Sunday night he proclaimes “we deserve more”. As unnecessary as the loss of the Senate might be, it gives a hope to the opposition, and is a signal that there is a way to defeat Law and Justice machinery: with a unity of the opposition.
Before this happens PiS does its bit to try to convince any two Senators elected within the larger diverse opposition to change affiliations and chose the Speaker of the Senate who is either a PiS Senator or a moderate. What PiS wants to avoid is a strong and skilful Speaker who could play the power game with the ruling party.
Jan Grodzki is one of the opposition Senators and a doctor. He says he was offered to be a health minister in the new government. He declined.
Over the past years Law and Justice was ruling with a machine. The Parliament was adopting laws in no time. This shall change now. The opposition-controlled Senate should increase transparency of the law making.
The opposition leaders are quick to denounce PiS attempts to lure in any of their Senators. But they quickly enter into a fight over the consultation process on whom to chose as the next Speaker. Mr Kosiniak-Kamysz of PSL has 3 Senators. He rebukes the Civic Coalition (KO)’s attempt to elect Bogdan Borusewicz, who was the Senate’s Speaker before (2005-2015), without prior conversation. The Left (Lewica) and the Independent Senators are invited in this discussion, too. After all, together they form a 51 majority in the Senate.
Towards the Presidential Elections
Everybody agrees: the day the Sejm and the Senate are elected marks the beginning of the next campaign. The opinion polls are there, the opinions are there, the speculations are out there, too.
For months people were speculating who can match up Andrzej Duda, the PiS-affiliate President of the Republic. Mr Duda runs a rather successful term in terms of his popularity. Still, the opposition is empowered by the Senate vote: united they believe to stand a chance.
But who should be the person to unite the opposition? For months it seems it has to be Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council. After last Sunday it does not necessarily have to be him.
Mr Tusk weighs in. He says that it is crucial to elect a President whose veto can stop detrimental policies of Law and Justice. He urges all the opposition forces to unite behind a candidate who has the best shot: “it is absolutely a strategic matter”.
Who has the best shot? Mr Tusk says it is important to chose the person wisely, not fast. Majority of commentators in Poland disagree: the sooner there is a good candidate, the better.
There is a new frontrunner. Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska was the Civic Coalition candidate for prime ministership and lost the moment PiS was re-elected. But her individual result is astounding. Over 400,000 votes in Warsaw was the best individual result last Sunday. The polls are in favour: she polls even with Mr Duda. Mr Tusk also polls even with Mr Duda.
Effectiveness matters. Mr Tusk agrees that he does not have to be the candidate. Gazeta Wyborcza writes that Ms Kidawa-Błońska candidacy is the Civic Coalition’s leader Grzegorz Schetyna master plan.