New Polish government has old make-up

Polish President Andrzej Duda (L) nominates Mateusz Morawiecki (R) as new Prime Minister during the ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, 11 December 2017. [EPA-EFE/Pawel Supernak]

Polish President Andrzej Duda swore in the new cabinet led by Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday (11 December). The only difference from Beata Szydło’s government is that the former prime minister switched seats with her deputy to become a minister without portfolio. EURACTIV Poland reports.

The vote of confidence for Morawiecki’s government is scheduled for Tuesday. Two days later, he will come to Brussels to represent Poland at the EU summit. One of his main tasks will be to improve Poland’s image in the EU, by compromising and trying to defuse tensions with Brussels over logging in the protected Białowieza forest, migration policy and the judiciary.

“From now on in a new role, but still a #goodchange. New tasks and challenges,” former PM Beata Szydło tweeted after being sworn in into her new role.

Morawiecki’s cabinet has three deputy PM’s – Beata Szydło, responsible for civil affairs, Piotr Gliński, minister for culture and national heritage, and Jarosław Gowin, minister of science and higher education – plus 18 ministers.

Morawiecki will also double as the minister of finance and development, although he had been expected to nominate his deputies for those positions.  All the other ministers have kept their portfolios, at least for now.

Morawiecki: It will be a government of continuation

After his appointment, Morawiecki announced that his government would be a government of continuation and the reference point would be a safe family, decent employment and housing available to as many people as possible.

He also stressed that his cabinet would work to preserve Poland’s cultural identity and cultural heritage.

“We will try to make the government of the United Right a government of a united Poland, to be a government of all citizens, to be accepted, to be appreciated by those who have not voted for us,” the new prime minister said. “It would be the greatest success, the greatest honour,” he added.

Expected changes did not happen

On Monday there had been expectations of serious changes in the government make-up, including a possible dismissal of Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, who was urgently called back from Brussels, where he has been participating in Council meetings.

Those expectations were strengthened by news that Waszczykowski’s participation in Tuesday’s One Planet climate summit in Paris has been cancelled. There had also been speculation that Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz might be called off in connection with a growing conflict between him and the president over intelligence matters.

Also in consideration for dismissal was Environment Minister Jan Szyszko, who has called for the protected Białowieża forest to lose its heritage status and defended the government’s logging there.

Nevertheless, a cabinet reshuffle was postponed. “The new President of the Council of Ministers made the decision that he wants to work with the previous Council of Ministers before he decides to undertake any changes. This is a good, collegiate decision,” President Duda concluded during the swearing-in ceremony of the new-old government.

The lack of changes was also justified by PiS spokeswoman Beata Mazurek, who said Prime Minister Morawiecki “must have the time to discuss with the president the key issues, in which the President also has a role.”

Both Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the European Council President Donald Tusk (formerly the prime minister of Poland) congratulated Morawiecki.

“I count on good cooperation. Acting for the sake of a strong Polish position in the European Union and the unity of all member states is the need of the moment,” Tusk wrote.

 

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