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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » May 27, 2011
Politics & Society
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Opposition MP Defects to Join Government
May 27, 2011   
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Following a high-profile defection, Bartosz Ar³ukowicz, a popular parliamentarian linked to the left-wing opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), is now in Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s government. He has been given the rank of minister and will be responsible for working with socially excluded people.

“Deputy Ar³ukowicz would like to make a contribution in an area he knows something about,” Tusk said.

He described Ar³ukowicz as a person whose energy and readiness to work were impressive. “It seems we have similar temperaments,” Tusk added.

“I have made a difficult decision,” Ar³ukowicz said at a joint news conference with Tusk. “I have talked to [SLD leader] Grzegorz Napieralski and other SLD politicians.”

Stanis³aw ¯elichowski, head of the parliamentary group of the Polish People’s Party (PSL), the junior partner in the ruling coalition, said Ar³ukowicz had decided to accept the governmental post because of problems within the SLD, including Napieralski’s decision to run in this fall’s parliamentary elections in the northwestern city of Szczecin—the constituency which elected Ar³ukowicz in a previous election. Ar³ukowicz, 40, a pediatrician, was elected to parliament on a SLD ticket but is not a party member. He said he would be willing to give up his membership in the SLD parliamentary group and would join the Civic Platform (PO) parliamentary group if asked.

“Ar³ukowicz has decided to swap the hard work of a left-wing politician for a government limousine,” SLD spokesman Tomasz Kalita said. “I am surprised because he criticized the [ruling] Civic Platform on many occasions. He knew it was a right-wing and very conservative party. These kinds of moves are not normal in Europe,” he added.

“Ar³ukowicz is an above-average parliamentarian,” said the PSL’s ¯elichowski. “He will perform the task entrusted to him well.”

Adam Hofman, spokesman for Law and Justice (PiS), the largest opposition party, said PO was losing the support of the electorate that voted for it. “This time, Donald Tusk wants to attract left-wing voters because its own electorate is leaving the party disillusioned by promises not having been kept,” he said.

Hofman mentioned Ar³ukowicz’s role in the parliamentary committee investigating a gambling scandal in which PO politicians were accused of illegal lobbying on behalf of casino and slot-machine owners. Prominent PO politicians involved in the case, such as Zbigniew Chlebowski, former head of the PO parliamentary group and former Sports Minister Miros³aw Drzewiecki “were Ar³ukowicz’s opponents until recently while they now have become his allies,” Hofman said.
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