Polish president announces date of new parliament but delays naming prime minister

President Andrzej Duda today made an address to the nation following two days of talks with all parliamentary groups that won seats in the recent elections.

He announced the date that he plans to convene the new parliament – 13 November – but said that he has not yet decided whether he will give the current ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party or the opposition the first opportunity to form the next government.

Oświadczenie Prezydenta RP dla mediów. pic.twitter.com/2fbC5vVaKp

— Kancelaria Prezydenta (@prezydentpl) October 26, 2023

“We have two serious candidates for prime minister,” said Duda, who noted that PiS has put forward Mateusz Morawiecki, the current premier, while the main three opposition groups have proposed Donald Tusk.

PiS came first in the 15 October elections, and traditionally the president gives the largest party the first chance to form a government. However, all other groups have ruled out a coalition with PiS, leaving it with no realistic chance of forming the majority needed in parliament to win a vote of confidence in the government.

That has led the opposition to argue that, because they together have a parliamentary majority and have declared their willingness to form a coalition government, Duda – who is a former PiS politician – should give them the first opportunity.

The opposition groups that won a parliamentary majority at the elections have declared their desire to form a government and have nominated @donaldtusk to lead it.

They urged the president, who must pick a new prime minister, not to “waste any more time” https://t.co/ADE9mclGlO

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) October 24, 2023

“This is a new situation in our democracy,” noted the president today. “There has never been a situation where one party won the elections but other parties claim that they will have the majority without the winning group and they present their candidate for prime minister.”

While acknowledging that “until now the custom was that the president gave the prime ministerial portfolio to the candidate nominated by the winning party”, Duda noted that “it was always the case that the winning party either had a coalition in advance or it had an independent majority”.

The president said that both PiS and the opposition had assured him they would be able to obtain a parliamentary majority in support of their candidates for prime minister. He added that, when he had asked the opposition if they had agreed on who would take which ministerial posts, they said they had not.

We answer 12 questions about Poland’s new government, including:

1. How will it be formed?
2. Will it be stable?
3. How will it tackle rule of law and abortion?
4. Can it unlock EU funds?
5. Will it face presidential vetoes?

Read our full analysis here⬇️https://t.co/oLK33waftV

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) October 23, 2023

The president announced that he therefore needed more time to consider the issue. “Fortunately, the constitution allows time,” he added, noting that the current parliamentary term runs until 12 November.

Duda said, therefore, that he currently planned to call the new parliament on 13 November – the earliest possible date – but would not yet announce his choice of prime minister. He must, however, make that decision by the time the new parliament convenes.

The president’s announcement was met with criticism from opposition figures. Wojciech Konieczny, a senator from The Left (Lewica), accused Duda of “creative accounting”.

“There are no two equal halves here,” Konieczny told broadcaster TVN. “One half is bigger. If Prime Minister Morawiecki lied to the president that he had a majority, the president should take this into account.”

Jako matematyk stwierdzę, że nie ma szanse na 2 konkurencyjne większości.

A mandaty @KO_Obywatelska , @nowePSL , @PL_2050 , @__Lewica , to 248.


— Katarzyna Lubnauer (@KLubnauer) October 26, 2023

Piotr Zgorzelski of the centre-right Third Way (Trzecia Droga) alliance likewise told Duda that “only one side is telling the truth” when it says it can form a parliamentary majority. Szymon Hołownia, one of the alliance’s leaders, accused Duda of “wasting time” by delating the decision, reports news website Onet.

As a “mathematician, I confirm that there is no chance of having two concurrent majorities”, joked Katarzyna Lubnauer of the centrist Civic Coalition (KO). She pointed out that KO, Third Way and The Left together will have 248 MPs in the 460-seat parliament. PiS only have 198 seats.

Adam Szłapka, another KP MP, argued that the president in fact does have the right to call parliament earlier than 13 November. He claimed that Duda is simply delaying things to “give PiS a little more time to clean up its mess”.

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: Jakub Szymczuk/KPRP

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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