Poland's unusual politics

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Poland's politics are causing some bemusement among voters. The prime minister - who is not a member of the ruling party - has submitted his resignation but remains in his post because the resignation was rejected by the president. And now the Prime Minister has joined another political group. Some say the latest developments could easily be entered into the Guinness Book of Records.

Marek Belka
Prime Minister Marek Belka, who's at the helm of the minority leftist government of the Democratic Left Alliance SLD, was given a very warm welcome at the founding congress of a new, liberal centrist grouping - the Democratic Party, a few days after Parliament ignored his call for early elections. Even though he stopped short of signing a membership declaration, he made it absolutely clear in his speech that his heart and future career are with the new party. Well, not entirely new, as its founders are the leaders of the liberal Freedom Union which dissolved itself to make way for the new formation. The prime minister's move is expected to complicate his relations with cabinet ministers most of whom are members of the party of ex-communists which put him into office. The Speaker of the Senate Longin Pastusiak:

'It is, in a way, a curious situation, although I can easily imagine such a situation that Parliament will support major decision of prime minister Belka. Of course, the government would be limited in its action and will probably conduct a very cautious policy. It will be, in a way, a kind of a care-taker government, rather than a government which is bold enough, courageous enough to propose the substantive decisions or the draft laws to the Parliament.'

According to most observers of the Polish scene, however, political life is not going to be such a bed of roses. Political analyst Andrzej Krajewski believes that the Belka cabinet can remain in power until the autumn elections only if it refrains from taking key decisions.

'The opposition will criticize every decision which will be taken by this government, or every decision which will not be taken by this government. I think the lame duck government, and this is what we have now, should not undertake fundamental decisions.'

Some of the leftist leaders are evidently furious with the prime minister's behaviour. It seems Poland has entered a period of turmoil and shake-ups at a time when continued reform to make full use of EU structural funds is vital. Marcin Sobczyk of the Warsaw Independent news service:

'The problem is that no political party, and not even a specific direction in Polish politics, has a majority. There is nothing that we can call a majority agenda of the Polish society. Well, everybody is trying to pull their own way, in their own direction and unfortunately, it means that Polish authorities are kind of standing really in the middle, unable to move in any direction because the political scene is too fragmented.'

Whether Poland's next Parliament is going to be less fragmented is anyone's guess at the moment. The only thing which is certain now is that Poland is in for a shift to the right. The ratings of the sleaze-ridden leftist parties have reached an all-time low.