Polish government wins vote of confidence despite tape scandal
June 26, 2014
Poland's PM Donald Tusk
Poland’s government has won a parliamentary vote of confidence amid a wire-tapping scandal involving prominent members of the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party.
In Wednesday's vote, called for by Prime Minister Donald Tusk the government received backing from 237 MPs, with 203 against in the 460-member parliament. The PM needed a simple majority of 231 for the vote of confidence to pass.
"As of tomorrow I need to be certain that I have a majority that allows me to continue work in the parliament and in the government," Tusk had said calling for the vote.
"Without this mandate, I will not be effective, the government will not be able to clarify the bugging affair in a satisfactory manner and keep a handle on state interests," he said.
Tusk had called for the vote before heading to the EU summit in Brussels later this week. He told parliament that without renewed majority support he wouldn't be able to effectively represent Poland in the European Union, where important structural and personnel decisions are being made this week. Poland wants some high EU positions.
PO politicians were recently compromised in a scandal over leaked secret recordings that were published in a weekly magazine “Wprost”. The recordings contained private conversations by senior Polish officials, including the central bank head and the foreign minister.
According to the publication Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said that the US-Polish alliance is "worthless." Sikorski also said that the opposition party Law and Justice (PiS) can be sunk via an investigation into party notable Antonii Macierewicz, against whom prosecutors have gathered strong evidence regarding a media leak of top secret information; former Transport Minister Slawomir Nowak said that in 2005 former presidential candidate Zbigniew Religa agreed to endorse Tusk after the first round of voting in exchange for having party members buy up his debt.
The secret recordings were made over a year and a half at various locations including three Warsaw restaurants. In a speech to parliament Tusk said he believed a criminal group was behind the recordings.
Appealing for the vote of confidence, PM Tusk called on MPs not to act according to the scenarios written "clandestinely" by criminals standing behind the recordings.
The publication of the tapes could have been motivated by Poland cracking down on illegal interests of shadow enterprises, Tusk also said making a vague connection to coal imports and distribution as well as a natural gas pipeline project.
Prosecutors say they have charged two people with illegally recording conversations and were questioning two more.