March 1, 2024

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The outgoing Polish government loses a vote of confidence, paving the way for a new centrist administration

The outgoing Polish government loses a vote of confidence, paving the way for a new centrist administration

Warsaw (Poland) (AFP) – Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s government lost a vote of confidence in parliament on Monday, paving the way to power for a broad pro-European Union coalition under the leadership of veteran centrist politician Donald Tusk.

Morawiecki’s government was defeated by 266 votes to 190 in the 460-seat Chamber of Deputies. The vote marked the end of eight turbulent years in which the nationalist conservative Law and Justice party ruled the country with the support of many Poles — but at bitter odds with liberal Poles as well as the European Union and other Western allies.

On Monday evening, the parliamentary majority is scheduled to elect Tusk, the former leader of the European Union, as prime minister, a role he already held from 2007 to 2014.

Tusk is expected to improve Warsaw’s standing in Brussels. His leadership of the EU’s fifth-most populous member will strengthen pro-EU centrist forces at a time when Eurosceptics, such as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, are gaining more power.

The step-by-step transfer of power comes nearly two months after Poles exited in large numbers To vote for changeHe was It was postponed for weeks by President Andrzej DudaWho kept his political allies in office for as long as possible.

The elections were won by a bloc of opposition parties ranging from the left to the moderate conservatives, who ran on separate lists but promised to work together to restore the rule of law.

The change of power appears to be of great importance to the 38 million citizens of the central European country, as collective anger has led to a record turnout to replace the government that was previously in power. Erosion of democratic norms.

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Voters who opted for change, including many young Poles, were eager for a change of government to finally arrive, and the parliamentary proceedings ignited widespread curiosity and emotion, leading to a spike in subscribers to the Sejm’s YouTube channel.

Simon Holonia, a former TV showman who leads a party allied with Tusk, Become a speaker from Parliament last month and is trying to encourage discipline in the sometimes rowdy Parliament.

A Warsaw cinema, which broadcast Monday’s proceedings live, attracted hundreds of spectators who munched on popcorn and burst into laughter as the outgoing prime minister spoke.

“A lot of unpleasant things have happened in the past eight years, and I’m not surprised that this joy is over,” said Justyna Lemanska, a young employee at an advertising agency who was in the audience.

There is relief for many women who have seen it Reproductive rights have been eroded and LGBTQ+ people who have faced a government hate campaign Some were forced to leave the country.

PiS remains popular with many conservatives thanks to its adherence to traditional Catholic values ​​and the popularity of its social spending policies. The party lowered the retirement age and provided cash payments to families with children while increasing pension payments for the elderly.

Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a driving force in the country for the past eight years, lamented the fall of his government and said he feared what comes next, perhaps even “the end of democracy.”

In his speech to parliament, Morawiecki recounted his government’s achievements and his desire to achieve reconciliation in a society so divided that it sometimes seems at war with itself.

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“We must end the Polish-Polish War,” he said, to applause from his supporters and laughter from his critics who recalled years of divisive politics. Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski himself described the liberal opponents as “Poles of the worst kind.”

“Let’s choose dialogue. Let’s look for what unites us,” Morawiecki said.

Once elected, Tusk is scheduled to address lawmakers on Tuesday before facing a confidence vote which he appears certain to win, given he has majority support. He is expected to be sworn in on Wednesday.

Former President Lech Walesa Who was hospitalized Last week due to Covid-19 and still weak, he traveled from his home in Gdańsk to attend the parliamentary session.

Walesa, an anti-communist freedom fighter, despaired at what he saw as the collapse of democracy under Kaczynski. He appeared in Parliament wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with the word “Constitution” – a slogan against law and justice. When he appeared in the balcony with other figures, many stood applauding him and chanting his name.

The PiS representatives did not applaud and remained seated.

Dealing with the repercussions of the war across Poland’s borders in Ukraine will be among the duties of the next government.

Tusk plans to travel to Brussels for… European Union summit Later in the week the discussions will be crucial for Ukraine’s future. This is demanded by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Russia’s closest ally in the European Union Ukraine’s membership in the European Union Billions of euros in funding for the war-torn country were taken off the agenda.

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The outgoing Polish government was initially one of Kiev’s strongest allies after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, but relations have deteriorated as economic competition from Ukrainian food producers and truck drivers has angered Poles who say their livelihoods are threatened.

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Monika Czeslowska, Rafal Niedzielski and Michal Dejuk contributed reporting from Warsaw.