Saturday, May 15, 2004

Polish shock could doom constitution

Source: AFP and others

In what could be the final death knell to the prospects of a conclusion to the constitution this June, Marek Belka, the Polish prime minister designate went before his parliament today – and lost the vote of confidence in his new government by 262 to votes to 188, with no abstentions.

As flagged up in our previous story, Poland not in the bag, the Polish prime minister is now a lame duck, with no mandate whatsoever to sign up his country to the constitution.

Parliament now has fourteen days to find another candidate, failing which President Aleksander Kwasniewski has to designate a new potential prime minister, while Belka stays on as a caretaker. The president has said he will try to re-appoint Belka, but analysts believe he will simply be rejected again.

The opposition is unanimously backing an early general election and, given the spectacularly low approval ratings of the present SLD ruling party, of which Kwasniewski is a former member (he was required to resign, on taking office), there is every likelihood that it would be swept from power. This will leave the way open for either the Self Defence Party or the League of Polish Families. Both are highly critical of the current EU accession deal and would be unlikely to support the constitution.

Unless Kwasniewski can put his own man back in power, therefore, and stave off an early general election – which at present looks highly unlikely - even a postponement of the June summit might afford no relief. The constitution – in the face of Polish opposition – could have to be abandoned for the foreseeable future.

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