Polish Premier Offers to Quit in Budget Feud
Poland’s prime minister made a surprise offer to resign Friday after the former Communists and their allies who control the Parliament sharply criticized his austerity policies.
Lawmakers in the Sejm, the lower house of Parliament, voted 209 to 65 to delay until today a decision on dissolving the 8-month-old government of Jan Krzysztof Bielecki.
Bielecki said he would not stay on in a caretaker capacity if the resignation were accepted.
The 460-seat Sejm was elected in 1989 under a formula approved by the then-ruling Communists. In Oct. 27 elections, voters will choose the first freely elected parliament in Poland since World War II.
Bielecki, the 40-year-old leader of a small liberal party, was selected in December by newly elected President Lech Walesa to head a government of experts.
In debate on the budget Thursday, deputy Wieslawa Ziolkowska, a former Communist, moved to recall Bielecki but proposed the government remain in power until a new Cabinet is formed after parliamentary elections.
Several other deputies also strongly criticized the government’s tight fiscal policies and demanded corrections in the economic reform plan to work out a more effective anti-recession policy.
Bielecki said Friday that his economic reforms could not be carried out without cooperation from the legislature, and blamed the Sejm for delays in lawmaking that he said were the result of political scheming.
“I do not agree to be an object in a surrealistic game, a puppet for a couple of months, because this will lead the state to chaos and anarchy,” he said.
Bielecki’s offer to step down could be viewed as an effort to win a vote of confidence and to protect his economic policies against attacks during the parliamentary election campaign.
Since assuming office, Bielecki has moved to accelerate the sale of state-owned industries and to reform post-Communist Poland’s economy.