President Lech Walesa issued a veiled threat Sunday that he may dissolve Parliament, moving Poland's young democracy closer to a constitutional crisis.
He is fighting Parliament over voting rules for new parliamentary elections and is angry over the lack of progress on legislation to reform Poland's struggling economy.
"Parliament deputies, sirs, I will show you how many people are fed up with your long-windedness and how many favor the dissolution of the Sejm," Walesa told cheering supporters in his home city of Gdansk.
About 600 people at St. Brygida's Roman Catholic Church took up the chant: "Dissolve Parliament!"
"The next leap has been prepared, but I will not take it without your approval, and on Tuesday I plan a swing through Poland to ask which option is best," he told supporters outside the church.
"If I want, I can get public backing for the democratic dissolution of the Sejm," he said.
The Sejm is Parliament's lower house, and nearly two-thirds of its seats were given to Communists and their allies under a 1989 pact with the Solidarity trade union that paved the way for the end of Communist rule.
Arguing that the deal had outlived itself, Walesa earlier called for parliamentary elections this spring, but Parliament voted to put the balloting off until October.
Last week, Walesa vetoed a bill on voting rules for the new elections, saying it would create a dangerously unstable Parliament by allowing voting for individual candidates. He said that could produce many small factions that would have trouble working together.
He wants voters to cast ballots for party slates to ensure party discipline, but the Sejm refused Friday to pass a revision in line with his specifications.
Walesa also is irate over Parliament's slow progress on key economic reform legislation. He has asked that the government be given power to act by decree.
As president, Walesa can dissolve Parliament in certain cases: if it cannot form a government, if it is unable to pass a budget or if it inhibits him from carrying out his constitutional duties of protecting the state's sovereignty.