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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » March 27, 2013
Politics & Society
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No-Confidence Vote Against Gov’t Rejected
March 27, 2013   
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Polish deputies March 8 overwhelmingly rejected a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s government brought by the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Law and Justice’s attempt to replace Tusk’s government with a government of experts headed by Piotr Gliński, a professor of sociology, had practically no chance of succeeding, given the parliamentary arithmetic. Despite six months of campaigning, PiS failed to win support from other opposition groups in parliament for its move, adding sting to its defeat. The no-confidence motion needed 231 votes in the lower house to be passed. It was backed by 137 PiS deputies, while 236 deputies from the ruling Civic Platform (PO) and its coalition partner, the Polish People’s Party (PSL), voted against. Forty-one deputies from the opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) abstained and deputies from the liberal Palikot Movement party ostentatiously walked out of the chamber before the vote even took place.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that proposing the no-confidence motion was an attempt to destabilize the political situation in Poland. “The results of the vote... show this was all a masquerade that had nothing to do with a non-party-political government,” said Tusk. “We can now get back to work, because everyone can see that our government has a guaranteed majority in parliament.”

Gliński, the PiS candidate for prime minister, said he did not take the defeat personally. “My mission was to improve Polish politics and make it more democratic,” Gliński said. “Today’s vote has shown that part of the parliamentary opposition is on the side of the [ruling] coalition.”

Gliński, who until last autumn was unknown in Polish politics, vowed he would continue to work with his team of experts.

“I will keep working on solutions for the country and society,” Gliński said. He denied rumors that he was planning to run in elections to the European Parliament on a PiS ticket. Many politicians believe, however, that Gliński will run. Some have speculated that a seat in the European Parliament could be a reward for Gliński for taking part in the PiS plan—devised by party leader Jarosław Kaczyński—to remove the Tusk government from office.

Leszek Miller, the head of the left-wing opposition SLD, was blunt in his criticism of PiS. “The vote on the PiS motion of no-confidence against Donald Tusk’s government shows how difficult it is to deal with one’s own delusions—and the ‘Prime Minister Gliński’ initiative was one big delusion,” Miller said, adding that his party had abstained from voting in order not to give the impression that it supported the Tusk Cabinet.

Janusz Palikot, the leader of the liberal Palikot Movement party, described the no-confidence motion as “a circus.” He added that was why the entire Palikot Movement caucus walked out several minutes ahead of the vote.

The day before the vote took place, Kaczyński explained the reasons behind the no-confidence motion and a long debate ensued. Kaczyński caused something of a sensation when he took the floor, pulling out a tablet computer, placing it next to a microphone and playing a video clip of Gliński delivering a short speech. Kaczyński’s unusual tactic came after lower house Speaker Ewa Kopacz refused to allow Gliński to address deputies in person about his proposed new government. Polish parliamentary rules forbid anyone who is neither a deputy nor a member of the government from taking the floor.

Kaczyński decided to sidestep the rules by playing Gliński’s policy speech, recorded outside the chamber, on his tablet. Except for PiS deputies, parliamentarians were amused, targeting snide remarks against both Kaczyński and Gliński.

Kaczyński outlined his arguments why the Tusk government should be immediately replaced. He listed what he described as the 12 main areas of negligence by Tusk’s Cabinet, from unemployment and Poland’s troubled healthcare sector to the failures of the education system and problems in foreign and security policy. He also gave three main arguments why the government should be dismissed. The first was that the government was doing a poor job in governing the country, he said. Second, Kaczyński continued, the government was incapable of improving, as not even the worst ministers were dismissed. The third reason, he said, was that Gliński would make a better prime minister than Tusk.

After Kaczyński’s speech, Tusk referred to the six consecutive defeats PiS has suffered in parliamentary, presidential, local and European elections. “Jarosław Kaczyński does not love the Poland we have today and sometimes, the feeling is mutual,” Tusk said. He added he would instruct his ministers to quickly refute Kaczyński’s claims.
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