UPDATE Ruling party torn by internal conflict amid political corruption allegations
October 31, 2013
Poland may face early parliamentary elections if the situation in the governing Civic Platform (PO) destabilizes to such an extent that the government will be forced to focus on the situation within the party rather than on Poland, governmental spokesperson Pawel Gras told reporters on Wednesday, referring to alleged irregularities during PO’s local elections.
According to Polish media, an internal conflict in PO between the supporters of Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his rival Grzegorz Schetyna intensified after the publication of video material suggesting political corruption during the Saturday elections for regional leader in the Dolnoslaskie (Lower Silesia) region in southwestern Poland
The video recording shows one of PO MPs Norbert Wojnarowski promising to help find job at copper firm KGHM to one of the delegates in exchange for backing PO MEP Jacek Protasiewicz in the elections. Protasiewicz unexpectedly unseated incumbent Grzegorz by a 205-194 vote on Oct. 26.
Edward Klimka, the delegate, who revealed the affair said that he received a telephone call from KGHM company’s management representative who invited him for an interview, the weekly Newsweek reported. Protasiewicz denied any wrongdoing and said he did not authorize any such offers and was unaware of the whole situation.
PO national authorities convened on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issue. However, they ruled out another internal election for the leadership of Lower Silesia.
“The national board of Civic Platform upholds the decisions of the electoral conventions,” Tomasz Lenz, head of the party in the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region, said on Wednesday evening.
However, Wojnarowski, Klimka and three other party members have had their PO membership rights suspended for three months, while the matter is under investigation.
PO members universally believe that it was the supporters of Schetyna, who leaked the video material as a warning sign for PM Tusk. An unnamed party member cited by the daily Rzeczpospolita said that Schetyna may have more discreditable material he could use, while PO MP Andrzej Biernat said that Schetyna's unwillingness to accept defeat may lead to early elections. Meanwhile, Schetyna has denied any involvement with the recordings.
“I am a victim of this situation, because if some votes were shifted to the other candidate, it's me who lost,” Schetyna said.
Following the defeat, Schetyna's position within the party may weaken as he may lose a seat in the party's management, but such a move from PM Tusk could exacerbate the conflict even more, the Polish media write.
The newly elected Protasiewicz said in an interview for Gazeta Wyborcza daily that Warsaw mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz could replace Schetyna on the post of the party's first deputy chairman, Since the regional elections in PO, media have rumored PM Donald Tusk wants to marginalize Schetyna in the party and plans to deprive him of the post of the first deputy chairman at the November party congress.