Polish government's majority down to one seat after another MP quits
September 13, 2013
The Polish ruling coalition 's majority in parliament fell to a single seat on Thursday with the departure of conservative MP Jacek Zalek from the governing Civic Platform (PO), the third lawmaker to leave the party in less than three weeks as the government faces labor union demonstrations and weakening support.
"I am leaving PO," Zalek said, adding that his suspension in PO caucus membership was crucial in his decision to leave party ranks.
"I would not like to be in a situation where I fight with my own party and cannot fight for matters I had promised to my voters," Zalek told reporters.
"PO failed to meet challenges put up by Poles. Millions trusted that we would be solving problems, building highways, lowering taxes, improving education and creating new jobs. And the highways we build are most expensive, taxes are going up, education is deteriorating and young people cannot find a job," Zalek said.
Zalek's resignation follows a similar move by informal leader of PO's conservative wing and recent opponent of PM Donald Tusk in the party leadership election MP Jaroslaw Gowin, and John Godson, who quit on Aug. 27.
Gowin said that one of the causes was the government-authored pension reform under which Open Pension Fund (OFE) treasury bond portfolios would be shifted to the national insurer ZUS. Godson said he left the party over disagreement on ideological issues.
In late August the PO authorities imposed a PLN 1,000 fine on Gowin and suspended Zalek for three months for violating party discipline in parliamentary votes.
Zalek said that more PO MPs could follow in their footsteps and expressed hope that Gowin will start building a new political initiative, he said.
Zalek’s departure leaves the ruling coalition, which includes the Polish Peasants’ Party (PSL), with 232 votes in the 460-seat lower house, and the parliamentary majority stands at 231. PO has 203 MPs and partner PSL 29.
The government is facing growing discontent as the country’s economy is forecast to grow this year at the weakest pace since 1997. Labor unions began four-day protests in Warsaw on Wednesday and opinion polls released yesterday showed PO falling further behind the chief opposition PiS.