Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party named a number of new ministers on June 4 mostly to fill vacancies opened up after several members of the populist right-wing cabinet won seats in the European Parliament.
The reshuffle provided PiS with an opportunity to refresh the government line-up less than six months ahead of the all-important general election in which the party hopes to win at least an outright majority in both houses of the parliament.
Some of the ministers leaving for Brussels have also become problematic for the ruling party’s image. Others, while not having won seats in the European Parliament, were let go because of what appear to be internal disagreements in the government camp.
That is most likely the case of Finance Minister Teresa Czerwinska who was replaced by Marian Banas. He is leaving his post of head of the national fiscal administration to take over as the minister.
Czerwinska was reported earlier this year as expressing doubts over PiS’ fiscal stimulus programme that critics claim will undercut Poland’s currently strong fiscal position once an economic downturn materialises.
Other changes include Teresa Witek, PiS’ former spokeswoman, taking over at the helm of the home affairs ministry. She is replacing Joachim Brudzinski who won a seat in the European Parliament.
Bozena Borys-Szopa, the former chief labour inspector, is replacing Elzbieta Rafalska as the new minister of family, labour, and social policy.
Dariusz Piontkowski replaces the controversial education minister Anna Zalewska. The new minister looks set to be a thorn in the liberals’ side because of his conservative stance on issues like LGBT rights and sex education.
In other changes, Jacek Sasin is leaving his post in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister to become a deputy PM in place of Beata Szydlo. She was responsible for PiS’ social policy but it is unclear if Sasin will be given the same area.
Two younger PiS’ politicians – Michal Dworczyk and Michal Wos – also became ministers without portfolio in the revamped government.
Wos is replacing MEP-elect Beata Kempa and is likely to take over her role as the government’s envoy for humanitarian help. Dworczyk, who is not replacing anyone, is expected to remain responsible as head of the PM’s Chancellery.
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