PM Morawiecki loses vote of confidence, paving way for new Tusk government in Poland

The government led by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has, as expected, lost a vote of confidence in parliament. It brings to an end eight years of rule by his national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party and paves the way for a new, more liberal government led by Donald Tusk to take office this week.

In the 460-seat Sejm, the more powerful lower house of parliament, only 190 MPs voted in favour of Morawiecki’s government while a majority of 266 were opposed.

How MPs from each parliamentary group split in the vote of confidence – za meaning “for” and przeciw “against”

The Sejm will pick its own candidate for prime minister, with a vote on that choice due to take place later today. The candidate will almost certainly be Tusk, who has the support of a majority of MPs.

Tomorrow morning, the newly nominated prime minister will present his cabinet and programme before facing a vote of confidence in the afternoon.

Should Tusk, as expected, win that vote, the final step in forming a government is being sworn in by President Andrzej Duda, which may take place on Wednesday.

– 9am: Tusk presents cabinet and programme to Sejm
– 3pm: his government wins vote of confidence in Sejm

– Possible swearing-in of new government by President Duda (but the date and time of this remain uncertain)


— Daniel Tilles (@danieltilles1) December 10, 2023

PiS won the most votes in October’s election but lost its parliamentary majority. Despite all other groups ruling out working with PiS, Duda gave Morawiecki – who has served as prime minister since 2017 – the first chance at creating a new government, arguing that traditionally the largest party has that opportunity.

Morawiecki’s proposed cabinet was sworn in two weeks ago, and this morning the prime minister presented its programme in an hour-long speech to the Sejm.

He defended the record of his party’s time in power, saying that it had replaced the previous “liberal” vision of Poland, which had left many Poles behind, with “solidarity” towards all citizens. Morawiecki also noted his government’s unprecedented investment in defence amid the growing threat of Russia.

But he also identified areas where PiS has failed – in particular in reversing Poland’s demographic decline – and suggested that it had lost the trust of many Polish women.

“Our wives, daughters and granddaughters want to live differently and all men must understand this,” said Morawiecki. “A woman’s place is and should be where she chooses it for herself…We may be different, but we must be equal.”

Poland’s prime minister has admitted it was a “mistake” for the ruling party to push for the constitutional court to introduce a near-total abortion ban in 2020.

He claims “he has always been a supporter” of the abortion law that existed before the ruling

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) November 6, 2023

The prime minister also proposed a “democratic package”, including an “opposition day” in parliament. That suggestion was met with ridicule from the opposition benches, given what they see as PiS’s exclusion of the opposition in parliament during its time in power.

“How can you talk about a democratic pact in this chamber? How are you not ashamed after all these years, Mr Morawiecki?” said Barbara Nowacka, responding to the prime minister’s address on behalf of Civic Coalition (KO), the group led by Donald Tusk.

“Poles will remember you for enormous inflation…[for] not being there when women protested in fear of their safety [following a near-total ban on abortion],” continued Nowacka, quoted by broadcaster TVN.

.@barbaraanowacka w Sejmie: Kobiety nie kupią Waszych kłamstw. Zbyt wiele widzieliśmy przez te 8 lat zaniechań, wykluczeń i pogardy. #KoniecPiS

— PlatformaObywatelska (@Platforma_org) December 11, 2023

“Democracy is when other people are respected and not called inferior,” she added. “Donald Tusk’s government will fix what you have broken. We guarantee dialogue, it’s time for a happy Poland.”

Subsequently, Ryszard Petru – speaking on behalf of Poland 2050 (Polska 2050), another member of Tusk’s coalition – told the Sejm that anyone in the PiS government who violated the law must be put on trial “to show current and future generations that breaking the law is unacceptable”.

Sławomir Mentzen of the far-right Confederation (Konfederacja) – which is aligned with neither PiS nor Tusk’s coalition – told Morawiecki that he was “glad that this is the end of your reign” and that he would “vote against you [in] the vote of confidence with the greatest joy and satisfaction”.

With a new government set to be formed in Poland over the next two days, a cinema in Warsaw is screening a live feed from parliament amid huge interest in political events.

For more on how the process is likely to unfold, see our report ⬇️

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) December 11, 2023

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: Slawomir Kaminski / Agencja

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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