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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » April 8, 2009
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Coalition Tensions After PO Blow
April 8, 2009   
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Amid a political row that increased tensions within the ruling coalition, parliamentary deputies voted April 2 to reject Civic Platform's (PO) draft law under which state subsidies for political parties would be suspended from April 2009 to the end of December 2010.

After a war of words in parliament, Eugeniusz Kłopotek, a deputy from the Polish People's Party (PSL), a junior partner in the ruling coalition, said the storm "will certainly arouse discussion in our party on the future of the coalition."

The intention of the PO, the senior coalition partner, was to show taxpayers that politicians were ready to tighten their belts during the global financial crisis.

Leading figures in the PO had pressed for the legislation for months. "Whenever we talk about millions of zlotys taken away from the taxpayer's pocket, there is a horrible yelling in the PiS benches," Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in an address to parliament before the vote. He added that if the PO draft were rejected, the party would support a draft to reduce funding for political parties proposed by the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), a left-wing opposition party.

After PO's defeat in the vote, Tusk lambasted both his coalition partner the PSL and the parliamentary opposition, especially the Law and Justice (PiS) party. "This house has not seen a more shameful spectacle than defending the extraction of millions [of zlotys] from taxpayers' pockets," Tusk said. "PO was isolated in its attempt to break with this system, a system which is unfair towards people." Of PiS deputies, he said: "The loser is the political party which defends this system of extracting money from the taxpayer. The party loses the moral right to speak about saving at a time of crisis."

PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński immediately counterattacked, describing Tusk's remarks as "exceptionally flagrant and unworthy."

PSL's Kłopotek said, "I am depressed by [Tusk's] words and such a speech by the prime minister. I did not expect to hear that from the prime minister of my coalition government."
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