Wednesday 11th August 2021
After the collapse of the coalition
Is a minority government coming in Poland?
The Polish government collapses on a controversial radio amendment. Prime Minister Morawiecki dismisses his deputy, who terminates the alliance with Morawiecki’s Law and Justice party. Just one day later, it had to take another blow.
After the dismissal of the Polish Vice Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin, the national-conservative government alliance broke up. The board of directors of Gowin’s conservative party Understanding decided on Wednesday to leave the list alliance and the joint parliamentary group with the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS). Gowin had already announced the move the day before, after Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki dismissed him as Vice Prime Minister and Development Minister. Gowin’s party spokesman Jan Strzezek has now announced on Twitter that they want to act as an independent parliamentary group from now on. Five deputy ministers from Gowin’s camp volunteered.
With the departure of the Understanding party, the PiS loses its absolute majority in parliament; now it all boils down to a minority government. This is a “real scenario”, said PiS spokesman Radoslaw Fogiel to the Wirtualna Polska portal. “Governing in such a situation is difficult and inconvenient, but not impossible.”
The background to the dispute were internal conflicts over an economic stimulus package and a new broadcasting law introduced by the PiS, but which Gowin viewed critically. And here the PiS had to take another blow the day after the collapse of the coalition. Parliament debated the amendment to the Broadcasting Act, which would make it more difficult to issue licenses, on Wednesday – until it surprisingly postponed a vote on a controversial amendment to the Broadcasting Act with the votes of the opposition. It was not clear whether the meeting should resume on September 2nd or September 15th, the PAP agency reported.
Before the vote, PiS spokesman Radoslaw Fogiel was optimistic that the necessary votes would be obtained to pass the new broadcasting law despite the broken coalition. “When it comes to the majority in the Sejm, I’m reassured.”
A majority of 229 to 227 MPs then voted in favor of the opposition Peasant Party (PSL) ‘s proposal to postpone the meeting. For the national conservative ruling party PiS, this is the next fiasco after the breakup of the governing coalition the day before. Because it clearly shows that it is without a parliamentary majority. This also speaks against the scenario of a minority government.
After the defeat, there was a surprising about-face on Wednesday evening: Parliamentary President Elzbieta Witek of the national-conservative ruling party PiS had the vote repeated – because she had not given a date for the postponement of the meeting. This time, 229 parliamentarians spoke out against postponing the plenary session. It is likely that parliament will still deal with the amendment to the Broadcasting Act late on Wednesday evening.
Broadcasting novella at the center of the dispute
The 59-year-old Gowin represents the conservative party Understanding, which has so far formed a list alliance with the PiS and another small party under the name “United Rights”. The official reason for Gowin’s dismissal was that his group had not worked on reforms of the PiS at a sufficient pace. Gowin had criticized the fact that massive tax increases are planned for a planned economic stimulus program.
The real background, however, was the dispute over the amendment to the Broadcasting Act. The plans introduced by the PiS in July provide that broadcasting licenses can only be issued to foreigners if they “have their headquarters or their place of residence in the European Economic Area”. In addition, the condition applies that the licensee must not be dependent on someone who is headquartered or resident outside.
According to critics, the law targets the private broadcaster TVN, which is part of the US group Discovery through a holding company registered in the Netherlands. The news channel TVN24 in particular takes a line that is critical of the PiS. Just a few days ago, several thousand people took to the streets against the law. Gowin had also criticized the amendment introduced by the PiS.