October 28, 2005


Polish leaders side with hardline eurosceptics (Andrew Rettman, 10/27/05, EUOBSERVER)

Events in Poland have taken a dramatic turn, with the Law and Justice party voting together with hard-line eurosceptics in parliament, endangering the chances of a coalition government and provoking a sharp fall in the zloty.

"A populist-nationalist coalition is forming, the goal of which is to change the treaties agreed with the European Union", Civic Platform leader Donald Tusk told Gazeta Wyborcza in the heat of Thursday (26 October) night. [...]

Law and Justice party chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski ruled out the possibility of a coalition with Self-Defence and the League of Polish Families however, saying "In this parliament the only possibilities are a coalition with Civic Platform or a minority government". [...]

Meanwhile, the markets gave their own commentary, with the zloty falling steeply against the euro and investors selling Polish shares on the Warsaw stock exchange.

"The market reaction is due to the uncertain political direction of the new government and how relations will develop with the EU and Russia", Credit Suisse analyst Sven Schubert told EUobserver.

Law and Justice is "less market friendly" he added, pushing to delay euro entry and boost welfare spending, while slowing privatisation.

It would probably be wiser to use Civic Platform to drive an economic reaction to seventy years of socialism, before settling down to a Third Way model. But spiking the EU justifies a lot.

In Poland, changing alliances (Judy Dempsey, 10/28/05, International Herald Tribune)

The League of Polish Families, a nationalist, conservative and Roman Catholic party led by Roman Giertych, and Self-Defense, another Catholic party led by Andrzej Lepper, both supported Kaczynski during last Sunday's second and final presidential round, and they quickly moved to take advantage of the political vacuum. They said they could support a minority government whose skeptical policies toward Europe and its strong Catholic roots are shared by these two parties.

The League of Polish Families, which won 34 parliamentary seats, and Self-Defense, which won 56 seats, have been consistently opposed to the European Union, even though farmers who form the backbone of Lepper's party have gained financially since Poland joined the EU in May, 2004.

It had been widely expected that the Law and Justice Party and Civic Platform - the two largest conservative parties in the Sejm - would find enough common ground to form a government. But after Sunday's election, the mood between the camps soured when Law and Justice decided not to support Civil Platform's candidate for speaker of the Sejm and also insisted that the larger party control the powerful Justice and Interior Ministries.

Both Kaczynski and his twin brother Jaroslaw, who leads the Law and Justice Party, promised during the parliamentary and presidential election campaigns to stamp out corruption and also rid the bureaucracy and administration of former Communists. They claimed previous governments had not carried out a thorough overhaul of the public sector, either on the national or local levels. Control of the Justice and Interior Ministries would give them a freer hand to pursue that program.

Civic Platform was offered the Treasury, as well as the Finance, Economy and Infrastructure Ministries - which are powerful positions and appear to be plum assignments.

"They seem beautiful," Pawlowski said, "but we don't want to find ourselves in a situation that we have to cover their promises."

Law and Justice promised to increase pensions and family welfare payments, in addition to building three million new homes and spending more on health services. It said some of the expenditure would be financed from sharp cuts in the state administration.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 28, 2005 7:45 AM
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