Udayavni Special

Polish ruling coalition loses parliament majority

PTI, Jun 26, 2021, 11:49 AM IST

Warsaw: Poland’s governing coalition lost its slim majority in parliament Friday after three lawmakers left it, criticising government policies — mainly on phasing out coal.

But the move is not expected to bring down Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s government — in which the Law and Justice Party is the strongest partner — as it can count on support from some small aligned or opposition parties in crucial votes.

A spokeswoman for Law and Justice, Anita Czerwinska, said recent votes in parliament in which opposition motions against Cabinet members were rejected showed that the government has sufficient backing among lawmakers.

“We do not have a formal majority, but what really matters is how lawmakers vote,” Czerwinska said.

The coalition of the Law and Justice party and two junior partners now holds 229 out of 460 seats in parliament’s lower chamber. It came to power in 2015.

Jan Grabiec, a spokesman for the main opposition Civic Platform party, said it was a “symbolic moment” when the government lost a steady majority that it held for six years.

“The government will encounter more and more problems trying to secure a majority for its laws, especially if they will be violating constitutional standards or the principles of the rule of law,” Grabiec said.

The departing lawmakers said they were frustrated over the government’s decisions to phase out coal, which accounts for some 65 per cent of Poland’s energy, and over its plans for the country’s post-pandemic economic recovery and development.

Until recently, the coalition that is on a collision course with the European Union on a number of issues from the rule of law and judicial independence to climate agenda was able to push all its decisions through the lower house, and secure backing in the Senate.

But that monolith has been crumbling recently in a power struggle and under criticism of its challenges to the EU that have weakened Poland’s international standing.

Signs of chaos inside the coalition were revealed last year ahead of presidential elections which at some point were planned by mail due to the pandemic. That plan was abandoned but tens of millions of zlotys (euro) were spent in vain on it.

Opinion polls show Law and Justice still enjoys the strongest backing, mainly due to its generous bonuses to large families and pensioners and its support for traditional, national values in the predominantly Catholic nation. But if snap elections were held, it would not win a parliament majority, polls suggest.

In the 2019 elections, the coalition lost its majority in the upper house, the Senate, where it has 49 of the total of 100 votes.

The next elections are scheduled for 2023.

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