The president of Poland will not call a new assembly until almost a month after a three-party opposition coalition secured a majority, potentially pushing back the formation of a new government until late December.
Andrzej Duda, who is allied to the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, said he would call the first sitting of the new parliament for 13 November and would announce his nomination of a candidate for prime minister later.
The PiS party won the 15 October election but does not have a feasible route to ruling. Meanwhile, the opposition coalition, headed by Donald Tusk, a former prime minister and European Council president, has confirmed their majority and expressed readiness to assume control.
On Thursday, Tusk spoke in Brussels and suggested it would be more beneficial to not prolong the process of selecting a new government in Poland. This is necessary in order for the country to receive EU funds, which have been withheld due to concerns over rule of law.
Tusk stated that if the president promptly recognizes the majority in parliament and permits the formation of a government, it will result in a timely disbursement of funds to Poland.
According to the Constitution of Poland, the President has a period of 30 days after the election to gather the new parliament and an additional 14 days to select a candidate for prime minister. The chosen prime minister must then assemble a cabinet and face a vote of confidence in parliament.
On Thursday, Duda announced, “I can confirm that the initial meeting of the lower house of parliament will be on Monday, November 13th. This is the earliest possible date considering constitutional regulations.”
He stated that there were two potential candidates for the position of prime minister, the current holder, Mateusz Morawiecki, and Tusk. He also mentioned that Poland was facing a different circumstance that called for more consideration.
Duda had previously stated his intention to adhere to tradition by selecting the nominee from the party that received the most votes. The PiS party won with 36% of the vote, but the opposition alliance holds a decisive majority of 248 seats in the 460-seat parliament.
As PiS does not seem to have a way to secure a majority, it is likely that they will fail a vote of confidence. This would allow MPs to propose their own candidate for Prime Minister. However, due to the delay, it is possible that a new government may not be established until late December.
According to Szymon Hołownia, a member of the opposition coalition consisting of Tusk’s Civic Coalition, the Left, and the Third Way, the president held meetings with the five parties in the new parliament on both Tuesday and Wednesday. He made it clear that he would not be pushed into making any decisions hastily.
“Hołownia stated after meeting with the president that the first session may be called at the last minute, as the president expressed his desire to avoid shortening the parliament’s term.”
Critics of PiS have proposed that Duda’s actions may be intentional in delaying the process. There are also suggestions that PiS is attempting to convince opposition MPs to join them, but it is doubtful that they will be able to secure the necessary support from 37 MPs. Some have speculated that PiS is purposely creating obstacles for the new government, while others believe they are using this time to dispose of any evidence that could implicate them in illegal activities while in office.
Some opposition leaders have proposed that a number of high-ranking members of the ruling party PiS, such as Duda, Morawiecki, and former prime minister Beata Szydło, may face a state tribunal once a new government takes over.
While in office, the PiS has undermined the legal system in Poland, restricted access to abortion, and propagated discriminatory messages against marginalized groups, resulting in a dispute with the EU regarding matters such as the autonomy of the judiciary and LGBTQ+ rights.