As the newly formed Polish zombie government is edging towards its inevitable death in two weeks’ time, president Andrzej Duda and the outgoing prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki from the Law and Justice party (PiS), are under fire for orchestrating a game of nonsensical political charades. But I argue that they deserve some credit for their remarkable acting skills.
Playing a caricature of yourself in a national farce takes a deal of plucky shamelessness, after all. Meanwhile, the new parliamentary majority led by Donald Tusk, who won the election over a month and a half ago, is kept away from the corridors of power by the departing right-wing coalition - for now.
On Monday, President Andrzej Duda presented nominations for 18 ministers in Mateusz Morawiecki’s new cabinet. Nine of them are political debutants. My assessment is that this is a “two-week government” as that is how long it will last at most. The new parliamentary majority will not grant him a vote of confidence.
Poles went to the polls on Oct. 15 and voted PiS out - even though with 194 MPs PiS is the largest grouping in the new parliament, there is no coalition partner willing to give it a majority. Despite several weeks of trying to hold talks with MPs, Morawiecki was unable to show that any other parties were willing to work with him. The majority is held by an incoming coalition of liberal Civic Coalition, Christian democratic Third Way and the social democratic Left, which has 248 seats and declares its willingness to create a government headed by Donald Tusk.
Apparently oblivious to the parliamentary arithmetic, Duda insisted that Morawiecki gets first chance at trying to form a government. “We are fulfilling a constitutional custom by appointing a government that represents the grouping that won the parliamentary election,” Duda said during Monday’s ceremony at the Presidential Palace.
As prime minister Morawiecki was playing his part and telling the president that he is on the cusp of securing the necessary majority. In turn Duda played his part in believing him that it is possible. All that took place at the orders of PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński, who had been Poland’s de facto ruler from 2015 until the election.
At the end of the meeting, the troupe shook hands and posed in Warsaw for a cabinet family photo. With no democratic mandate, no support in the parliament, no political heavy-weights to fill the positions and absolutely no self-believe that any of this makes sense, everyone smiled to the camera.
And there were 1.5 million reasons to smile on that day. When you add up the salaries and redundancy packages of the incoming ministers, deputy ministers and various experts, it adds up to around 1.5 million złoty. That’s quite a sum, given they cannot and will not fulfil any of their ministerial duties for the next 12 days.
Now Morawiecki has less than two weeks to present his program to parliament and try to win a vote of confidence. When that fails - which is certain - then parliament gets to choose its own candidate for prime minister, which will allow Tusk to return to an office he left in 2014.
“This is not an easy situation for those newly appointed ministers who participate in this type of show. I'm serious, it all rather arouses my sympathy, since they have to pretend collectively that this is all real. (...) In a sense, leader of PiS Kaczyński humiliates his colleagues enough for me to have to contribute” - summed up Tusk.
The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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