Donald Tusk, who is almost certain to be appointed as Poland’s new prime minister next week, today confirmed the names of figures who will be part of his government. The likely future cabinet also held its first meeting today.
His administration will see the return of some former ministers – such as Radosław Sikorski again heading the foreign ministry – and the arrival of some new ones, including the creation of an industry ministry that will be located in Silesia and headed by Marzena Czarnecka.
.@donaldtusk rozmawiał z przyszłymi ministrami. „Ważne spotkanie”
Kliknij w zdjęcie, by przeczytać więcej🔽https://t.co/jd7AnbSs5s
— Rzeczpospolita (@rzeczpospolita) December 8, 2023
October’s parliamentary elections saw Law and Justice (PiS), which has ruled Poland since 2015, lose its majority. A trio of opposition groups led by Tusk together have a majority and last month signed an agreement to form a coalition government led by him.
However, in keeping with tradition, President Andrzej Duda gave PiS, as the largest single party in parliament, the first chance to form a new government. That proposed administration, led by Mateusz Morawiecki, will face a vote of confidence in parliament on Monday, which it is almost certain to lose.
Once it does so, the parliamentary majority will then put forward its own candidate for prime minister, which will be Tusk. He will then name a cabinet that will in turn face a vote of confidence.
President Duda today swore in a new government led by @MorawieckiM and made up of some figures from the outgoing cabinet and a number of new faces.
However, the new administration is likely to only be in place briefly, as it lacks a parliamentary majority https://t.co/NDnaPvWDHG
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) November 27, 2023
This morning, Tusk held the first meeting of his planned cabinet. Afterwards, he officially confirmed the names of nine ministerial candidates, reports the Rzeczpospolita daily:
Radosław Sikorski – foreign affairs
Adam Bodnar – justice
Barbara Nowacka – education
Marzena Czarnecka – industry
Czesław Siekierski – agriculture and rural development
Andrzej Domański – finance
Dariusz Wieczorek – science and higher education
Adam Szłapka – Europe
Paulina Hennig-Kloska – climate and environment
— Arleta Zalewska (@arletazalewska) December 8, 2023
Several other politicians were also seen entering the meeting with Tusk, reports TVN. They included Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz (tipped to be deputy prime minister and defence minister), Borys Budka (tipped to be state assets minister), and Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bąk (tipped to be minister for family and social policy).
Others to attend included Tomasz Siemoniak (tipped to be minister for the security services), Izabela Leszczyna (tipped to be health minister), Krzysztof Gawkowski (tipped to be deputy prime minister and digital affairs minister), and Katarzyna Kotula (tipped for the new role of equality minister).
Relacja z tego pierwszego „spotkania” w takim gronie dziś w @FaktyTVN
— Arleta Zalewska (@arletazalewska) December 8, 2023
“This was a meeting with candidates for the future cabinet,” said Tusk afterwards, quoted by news website Interia. “I hope that the swearing-in ceremony [for the new government] will take place on Wednesday [next week].”
That would allow Tusk to then attend a European Council summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday as Poland’s head of government. Some media speculation has suggested that Duda, a PiS ally, may delay swearing in Tusk to prevent him from attending.
Tusk today criticised PiS for “using the last few weeks [since the elections] to demolish and devastate the Polish state, throwing handfuls of money to its own people”.
A commission created by the outgoing government to investigate Russian influence has recommended @donaldtusk, the likely next PM, not hold positions responsible for state security.
Tusk dismissed the commission’s report as a politically motivated attack https://t.co/YWfMtMS7GK
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) November 29, 2023
Tusk also confirmed that the PiS government’s decision to increase monthly child benefits from 500 zloty to 800 zloty per month would be maintained by his administration. He also pledged to implement a campaign promise to raise teachers’ salaries by 30% effective from 1 January.
Regarding another pledge, to raise the tax-free annual income threshold to 60,000 zloty, Tusk admitted that “this will definitely not happen within [the first] 100 days”, as previously promised, because it is now too late to introduce tax changes for the new fiscal year. But he said that the policy would still be implemented.
Among other actions that he said his government would take within its “first hours” are joining the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, ordering audits of ministries and the situation at state oil giant Orlen, and appointing new governors for Poland’s 16 provinces, reports broadcaster TVN.
A media firm owned by state oil giant Orlen has informed two opposition groups that it will not publish their campaign adverts ahead of next week’s elections because of their “left-wing values” and „understanding of the Polish national interest” https://t.co/3mqy9RZqEz
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) October 6, 2023
Tusk also addressed controversy over legislation recently proposed – then later withdrawn – by members of his coalition to loosen rules on building wind farms. It faced criticism over a lack of precision in its presentation and communication that led to fears private land could be expropriated for turbines.
“This showed that we need to be precise and careful,” said Tusk, quoted by broadcaster Polsat. He added that he has “full trust in Paulina Hennig-Kloska”, the likely incoming climate minister who has been most closely associated with the plans.
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Main image credit: Slawomir Kaminski / Agencja Wyborcza.pl
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.