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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » November 25, 2011
Politics & Society
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New Government and Parliament Kick Off
November 25, 2011   
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After a meeting with President Bronisław Komorowski, Prime Minister Donald Tusk Nov. 17 announced the makeup of his new government.

Compared with his previous Cabinet, Tusk replaced 10 ministers. Tusk’s Civic Platform (PO) continues to govern the country in coalition with the Polish People’s Party (PSL).

“This government is potentially strong due to voter support and is based on the same PO-PSL coalition,” Tusk said as he introduced his new government composed of 19 ministers, in addition to himself as prime minister. “The support which the two parties received on election day and which offered us a chance—for the first time in these two decades of democracy—to continue in power, puts an enormous obligation on us. The decision of the voters means they agree for the main directions of the government’s work to continue. But I am aware that citizens, institutions and businesses expect acceleration in some areas.”

PSL leader Waldemar Pawlak will continue as deputy prime minister and economy minister. Jacek Rostowski and Radosław Sikorski will stay on as finance minister and foreign minister respectively. Barbara Kudrycka will still be in charge of the science and higher education ministry, while Elżbieta Bieńkowska remains regional development minister. The agriculture and rural development ministry, controlled by the junior coalition partner, will still be headed by the PSL’s Marek Sawicki. Bohdan Zdrojewski will continue as culture and national heritage minister, Tomasz Siemoniak will stay on as defense minister, and Tomasz Arabski will keep his post as head of the Prime Minister’s Office and of the Government Standing Committee.

Several other appointments, however, surprised observers. Bartosz Arłukowicz, a former left-wing politician whose defection to the PO, caused a political sensation earlier this year, replaces Ewa Kopacz as health minister. Michał Boni, who was head of a team of advisers to the prime minister and author of several large reports on challenges facing Poland, will now head a newly established ministry of “administration and digitization.” Mikołaj Budzanowski, deputy Treasury minister in the previous government, will assume the post of Treasury minister, replacing Aleksander Grad. Similarly, former deputy education minister Krystyna Szumilas replaces Katarzyna Hall as education minister. Marcin Korolec takes over as environment minister.

The post of interior minister went to Jacek Cichocki, who will concurrently continue in his previous role as an official responsible for supervising the security services.

Under the PO-PSL coalition agreement, the PSL will still be in charge of the labor and social policy ministry—the post of minister went to Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, 30, the youngest member of the government. In turn, the PO’s Sławomir Nowak, who previously worked in the President’s Office, will assume the post of transport, construction and maritime economy minister.

In the most surprising appointments, Jarosław Gowin, a popular politician widely seen as one of the leaders of the PO’s conservative wing, took over as justice minister. Joanna Mucha, 35, an economist by education, became the new sports and tourism minister.

Earlier, the new parliament gathered for the first time Nov. 8 and deputies listened to a special address by President Komorowski. The president said that most voters supported the government’s policy line in the Oct. 9 elections. He added that this parliamentary term will not be an easy one and only bold moves on the part of deputies and the government can allow Poland to continue on its stable economic growth path.

According to Komorowski, Poland has escaped the latest crisis thanks both to government policies pursued in recent years and concerted efforts to build an economy based on sound foundations. Komorowski also said that the Polish people expect an improvement in the functioning of the state.

Komorowski said that Poland’s task was to promote European integration. “Measures aimed at strengthening financial security, reducing public debt and enhancing the competitiveness of the Polish economy should be Poland’s response to the crisis,” he said.

A political sensation of recent weeks is the absence in the government or parliamentary presidium of Grzegorz Schetyna, former speaker of the lower house and earlier deputy prime minister and interior minister. Considered for many years as number two in PO, Schetyna, according to most commentators, came into conflict with Tusk as he had aspired before the elections to become the party’s leader or even prime minister. As a result, he has been sidelined and the leadership of a parliamentary committee is the most he can count on.
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