More than two weeks passed since the liberal opposition’s electoral success in Poland, but the formation of a coalition government is still nowhere. The ruling Law and Justice party is playing its own game of staying in power as long as possible. On the other hand, the so-called democratic coalition barely has a coherent plan for the future. What are we going to see in the upcoming two weeks? Here is all you need to know about Poland after the elections.
During the electoral campaign, they tried their best to show unity and determination to rebuild rule of law in Poland. Despite serious programmatic differences, they claimed to have a plan. Not much is left of these 20 days after the vote – Donald Tusk’s Civic Coalition, the Third Way alliance (including an agrarian party and a new technocratic-neoliberal party of former TV host Szymon Hołownia) and the New Left (also an alliance, consisting of New Left and Left Together) are still struggling to present a coherent idea of rule. And while the smaller parties, especially the Left, claimed in the campaign they would be able to soften the most pro-market policies stemming from Civic Coalition, not much is likely to be materialized from these promises, given the poor electoral result of the socialdemocrats.
However, internal disputes are not the reason for which Poland is likely to meet the new government as late as in December. It is President Andrzej Duda’s use of the constitutional calendar to give Law and Justice as much time in power as possible. This is more to blame than the indolence and disorganisation of the politicians and politicians of the new legislative majority.
Duda called a special session of the Sejm on the 18th day after the elections in 2015, the year PiS won the elections for the first time. This year, the Sejm will meet on the 30th day following the elections. The President is using all the constitutional measures he has to assure that PiS gets a chance to form a government, and if it turns out impossible, to gain some time for safe landing.
New Sejm Meeting
Why does the Sejm’s first meeting date of the new term matter? Considering that the ‘expiry date’ of the first constitutional stage of government formation starts to run on this day.
The President will designate the Prime Minister and assign him the task of establishing a cabinet within 14 days of this date. The new head of government will then have 14 days to get a vote of confidence from the Sejm.
Regarding the “deep deliberation” that, according to Marcin Mastalerek, the chief of staff for the President, President claimed to have undertaken, Andrzej Duda’s decision about the first Prime Minister nomination, which was made public at 8 p.m. on Monday, turned out to be rather predictable and was, in fact, anticipated by the public. Duda appointed Mateusz Morawiecki, that is, the currect Prime Minister, but also a member of a political camp that has no chance of forming a majority in the Sejm. He did that despite having received clear statements from the leaders of KO, the Third Way, and the Left expressing their desire to form a government together and secure the required number of votes in the Sejm.
As a result, Duda behaved more like a politician of the Law and Justice than a head of state, buying time for his party. But no matter how hard he tries, it is rather impossible for Jarosław Kaczyński to create a coalition.
There is no doubt that the new administration will not be established during the Sejm meeting on November 13. What then will occur? The President will name a senior Speaker to start the session. The oath of office will be taken by both male and female MPs. Next, a Speaker of the Sejm will be chosen by the Sejm. A vote will be held later to decide the number of Deputy Speakers. Additionally, elections will be held for members and members of the parliamentary committees.
Who will become the Speaker of the Sejm?
Who will be chosen as Speaker of the Sejm by the newly elected majority? Poland 2050, a coalition partner of the hard-core neoliberal coalition known as the Third Way, expressed interest in the position from the outset of the coalition discussions and suggested Szymon Hołownia as a potential candidate. Subsequently, the New Left, led by Włodzimierz Czarzasty, joined the fray and Borys Budka of the Civic Coalition was mentioned.
At the moment, the most likely scenario is that the Speaker of the Sejm will be a rotating position, with Włodzimierz Czarzasty holding the position during the second half of the term and Szymon Hołownia during the first. This is a reasonable course of action given from democratic opposition point of view, since Holownia intends to run for president in the 2025 elections while serving as Speaker. By then, one would think Czarzasty would have the position of Deputy Speaker.
Here I would like to say that it is not yet a time or place to talk about ministries. There is a lot of going on right now, also we are seeing some moves here and there. For example, the chief of the Ministry of National Defence, Mariusz Blaszczak, has just signed the creation of a 6th division of the Polish Army. Moves like that might complicate some nominations, especially if the Civic Platform/Coalition nominees are known for a rather pacifist, or escapist attitude towards the military.
Here we still have to wait for more, and we will update at the end of this month.
Why Are We in a Long Game?
The Law and Justice camp is saying all along since the election that this is going to be a ‘chaos coalition” government. Is it true? From some perspectives, especially combined with slogans used by neoliberal saloons, it seems so. Saying all the time that we are going to do that and this in 100 days after being sworn in, and then U-turning from that one week later, when it seems that this is going to be much more complicated, seems that the Law and Justice might have some right in that. The same goes for human rights, liberal feminist agenda, and maybe much more. Even a grand project of Central Communication Airport, frequently criticised by the opposition for being just an example of PiS nationalism, might stay with us, and be actually built up, thanks to the US influence. While watching this coalition unfold, one might feel that there might be much more of it to come.
What’s more, there is, possibly, a referendum question on the table. Referendum? Yes, one about abortion laws! While the opposition suggested in the campaign they would just liberalise the abortion laws according to the wishes of women who staged historic protests in 2020, the wind hauls from the Third Way politicians, especially those more conservative.
In all of this, a new referendum might be destructive. If Donald Tusk becomes prime minister he is going to run a cabinet composed of people opposing one another, coaching for different outcomes in the referendum, so it might be a complete disaster for his government. What’s more the Law and Justice politicians are now saying that they “went too hard on abortion”. We do not know yet what kind of position the Law and Justice might take here.
As we see, also in Poland everything is possible right now, including a period of chaos in 2024.