Polish PM appeals to opposition groups to form new government with him

Poland’s prime minister has appealed to opposition groups to join a new government alongside him after his national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party lost its parliamentary majority at last month’s elections.

Mateusz Morawiecki said that he wants to create “a cross-party, non-partisan government, a government of balance”, which will take the best elements from the programmes of various political groups.

His idea has, however, been rejected by the opposition groups that he claims to want to attract, who have already signed their own coalition agreement to form a new government without PiS once Morawiecki’s efforts to create one fail.

President Duda has announced that he will give the ruling PiS party the first chance to form a new government.

PiS lost its majority at last month’s elections and all other groups have ruled out working with it. But it insists it can create a government https://t.co/bR6lXdh6FL

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

Although PiS won the most seats of any party at the elections, a coalition of three opposition groups has a combined majority and has declared its desire to form a government led by Donald Tusk

However, in keeping with tradition, President Andrzej Duda decided to give PiS, as the largest single party, the first opportunity to build a new government.

Duda this week designated Morawiecki as prime minister, tasking him with naming a cabinet that must then present a programme. That will then be put to a vote of confidence in the Sejm, the more powerful lower house of parliament.

Should Morawiecki win that vote, a new government is established. However, it is widely expected that he will not, in which case the Sejm nominates its own candidate for prime minister, likely to be Tusk, and the process is repeated.

Speaking today, Morawiecki announced that he plans to name the members of his proposed cabinet in around seven days. He pledged that it would be “a completely different government than the one 1700256331 in office”. PiS has ruled independently since 2015.

The prime minister declared that, because Poles gave no single group a majority, he wanted to respect their decision by developing a programme that unites PiS with opposition groups. However, he excluded the largest opposition force, Tusk’s centrist Civic Coalition (KO), from his offer.

Instead, Morawiecki issued his appeal to KO’s two allies – the centre-right Third Way (Trzecia Droga) and The Left (Lewica) – as well as the far-right Confederation (Konfederacja).

He proposed “taking the most valuable elements” of their individual programmes and building a joint one, which he called the “Decalogue of Polish Matters”.

❗ „Skoro Polacy zdecydowali się na różne partie, bardzo różne ugrupowania, to zaczerpnęliśmy z różnych programów najbardziej wartościowe elementy tych programów. Budujemy z nich “Dekalog polskich spraw”. Budujemy z nich filary programowe na najbliższą przyszłość” – premier… pic.twitter.com/z2MmdTT52s

— Kancelaria Premiera (@PremierRP) November 17, 2023

Morawiecki today unveiled the first three “pillars” of that decalogue: “stability for small and medium-sized businesses”; “ambitious development and energy security”; and “higher wages and opportunities for development”.

Within those three areas, he outlined a number of specific policies, including: increasing the minimum wage; a law on equal pay for men and women; supporting renewable energy micro-installations; social insurance contribution “holidays” for small companies; and completing construction of nuclear power plants.

The prime minister claimed that his proposals “are consistent with” ideas put forward by opposition parties Poland 2050 (Polska 2050) and the Polish People’s Party (PSL), who together make up the Third Way (Trzecia Droga) alliance, Confederation, “and even The Left”.

🇵🇱 1️⃣ sprawa z #DekalogPolskichSpraw ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/GHPjecVRDs

— Kancelaria Premiera (@PremierRP) November 17, 2023

However, Third Way and The Left have already signed their coalition agreement with KO. Their leaders have repeatedly made clear they do not want to join a government with PiS, as have those of Confederation.

The leader of Poland 2050, Szymon Hołownia, who was elected speaker of the Sejm last week, noted that Morawiecki had not approached him about forming a coalition. The prime minister “must be talking to himself”, joked Hołownia.

His deputy leader, Michał Kobosko, suggested that Morawiecki’s proposal would have been more suitable for April Fool’s Day. “The prime minister is openly stealing the oppositions ideas,” he said. “PiS had time to present its ideas during the campaign but Morawiecki preferred to focus on attacking the opposition.”

The opposition groups likely to form the next government have signed a coalition agreement

They pledged to:
– restore rule of law
– annul the near-total abortion ban
– depoliticise public media
– prosecute anti-LGBT hate speech
– separate church and state https://t.co/lwQvGGok8s

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) November 10, 2023

Confederation’s deputy chief of staff Tomasz Grabarczyk ridiculed the idea of proposing a programme that could be consistent with the ideas of both The Left and his own nationalist group. “Give it a rest already,” wrote Grabarczyk.

Dariusz Wieczorek, the secretary of The Left’s parliamentary caucus, told Polsat News that no “serious politician would consent to their name being mentioned in the context of [Morawiecki’s proposed] government”. He called for the prime minister to admit defeat.

PiS has 194 seats in the new parliament, leaving them 37 short of a majority. An alliance with either the Left (with 26 seats) or Konfederacja (18) would not be enough alone to obtain that majority, though one with Third Way (65) would be.

Poland’s new parliament met today for the first time, with the three opposition groups that now hold a majority voting in their candidate as speaker

But the president this evening entrusted the ruling PiS party with forming a government

Read our report⬇️ https://t.co/giXeZJhUSP

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) November 13, 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: KPRM (under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 PL)

Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.

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