Poland: reasons behind Beata Szydlo’s resignation and the appointment of a new Prime Minister

, by Nicolas Filippi, Translated by Patrick Michnowicz

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Poland: reasons behind Beata Szydlo's resignation and the appointment of a new Prime Minister
From Kancelaria Premiera

On Thursday 7 December 2017, the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo gave her resignation to the political committee of PiS (Law and Justice). Mateusz Morawiecki, the Minister of Finance, will take her place.

This is a dramatic turn of events in Poland. The current Prime Minister, Beata Szydlo, resigned last Thursday after having been set aside by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the chairman of the conservative party Law and Justice (PiS). This occurred only a month after Beata Szydlo and Emmanuel Macron met in order to settle their disagreement on the posted work that started this summer. She will be replaced by the Minister of Finance and former banker Mateusz Morawiecki, who is considered as a better choice for settling the tensions with the European Union.

Beata Szydlo alone against all

Szydlo became Prime Minister in 2015 and her government has ever since made reform propositions that threatened the State of Law. In the eyes of the EU, Poland immediately became enemy number one, alongside Hungary, as the State of Law is indeed the basic requirement that every state needs to fulfil if it wishes to join the Union. But Poland is slowly falling into an endless pit of disguised authoritarianism, a real danger to democracy. For example, Poland has recently stopped to publish the orders of the Constitutional court, which is responsible for enforcing the constitution.

The ultra-conservative Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has sharply criticised the EU’s policy on immigration in 2015. Among other things, she refused to follow the program that aimed to relocate a certain number of Syrian refugees inside the EU and to take them in on Polish soil. She even declared that Poles feared for their own safety and that some members of her government thought that these refugees were terrorists. The European Union is considering retracting Poland’s right to vote because of the policies she has been leading – policies that are all in contradiction with the EU’s values.

In response to this restructuring, the party’s spokeswoman Beata Mazurek reacted as follows: “This shows us how we are perceived outside of our borders, the state of our relations with our partners, why we are supported, why we get attacked, and how the actions of our government and of our organisations are perceived by the other Member States. All of this had an impact on the government’s decision.” Beata Szydlo was appointed to the function of Prime Minister by the very controversial Jaroslaw Kaczynski, her mentor, who has now set her aside because of her euroscepticism. She should be appointed to the function of vice Prime Minister.

Will Mateusz Morawiecki settle the tensions with the EU?

Mateusz Morawiecki, the new and multilingual Polish Prime Minister, studied in Poland, the United States, Switzerland, and Germany. He was the President of the Bank Zachodni WBK until 2015, and he joined the PiS government as Minister of Development and vice Prime Minister. In 2016, he also became Minister of Finance. He managed to gain the favour of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the party, and to become Prime Minister that way. The goal of this nomination is to soften the image of Poland in the EU.

Politically speaking, Morawiecki is much more moderated than Szydlo and has gained the total trust of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, allowing him to set in place the “Morawiecki plan” when he was still Minister of Finance. The goal of this plan, inspired by the Keynesian economic theory, is to make Poland less dependent of foreign investment and to regain control over the bank sector. In the same time, he created an important policy on family allowance in order to tackle poverty, all the while keeping a “pro-business” vision.

This zealous defender of the Welfare State will have to lead several battles. The first one will be to regain the trust of the EU that decided, just before him being appointed to his new function, to attack Poland in the European Court of Justice on the grounds of Poland’s refusal to take in its quota of immigrants. Even though he is more moderated and “EU compatible”, Mateusz Morawiecki remains nonetheless the protégé of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the one dealing the cards and controlling every government policy.

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