Polish Premier-Designate Told to Try Again
Prime ministerial candidate Jan Olszewski was trudging back to the drawing boards Wednesday, instructed to try again to come up with an acceptable government after the Polish Parliament voted to reject his withdrawal from the office.
Olszewski, 61, announced Tuesday that he had given up his efforts to form a government, in the wake of a cool reception by President Lech Walesa to his proposed Cabinet and because the center-right coalition that backed him had fallen apart.
But the fractured Parliament, elected Oct. 27, voted Wednesday to reject his resignation, and last-ditch moves were under way to pull the former Communist allies, the Polish Peasants’ Party, into the alliance. It remained uncertain, however, whether any new coalition would be able to muster a working majority of the 460-seat Parliament.
“It is clear that you cannot form a government that is ‘only left’ or ‘only right,’ ” said Waldimir Pawlek, leader of the Peasants’ Party. “In our opinion, it is important that the government be based on a broader platform.”
Olszewski was nominated Dec. 5 as the candidate representing a center-right alliance that appeared to be in the strongest position in the Parliament. The coalition, headed by Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Center Alliance, is in favor of slowing down the pace of Poland’s economic reform plan.
But various elements in the Parliament, which includes 29 parties, are divided by numerous side issues and interests. This has stymied the formation of a government for eight weeks.
Olszewski said Tuesday that his proposed government has received no support from Walesa, who wants a government that will continue the economic policies that have been in place for the last two years, a course aimed at speeding up privatization of state-owned industries and holding down state spending.
The direction of economic policy is important for Poland, which has depended on support from the International Monetary Fund, whose backing is a key element in negotiations with international lenders.
Those advocating a continuation of the government’s reform plans argue that to abandon the plan now would cause the government’s deficit to skyrocket, damage the stability of its currency and prolong the already slow road to recovery.
But the coalition behind Olszewski has argued that relief must be given to Poland’s recession-stricken industrial base and steps must be taken to relieve unemployment, now estimated at 12% of the work force.
Olszewski will now redraw his list of possible ministers, evidently with an eye toward broadening it. But it remains uncertain how much accommodation the center-right group would make toward compromising its economic ideas.