Poland's candidate for premier absent from new Cabinet talks

AP News
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Posted: Nov 03, 2015 10:52 AM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's candidate for prime minister was on vacation for several days recovering from an exhausting election campaign as members of her conservative Law and Justice party held talks on forming her Cabinet.

Beata Szydlo joined the key party talks on Tuesday, but her absence for several days fueled speculation she could end up a figurehead for longtime party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The populist and Euroskeptic party swept to victory in a parliamentary election on Oct. 25, winning a majority that will allow it to govern alone.

A former prime minister with a sometimes abrasive style, Kaczynski stayed in the background for much of the campaign, something that experts believed helped his party's victory. Instead Szydlo, a 52-year-old with a softer image, ran as the party's prime minister candidate. But there have been questions all along over whether Szydlo would truly end up in charge, or if most power would lie with Kaczynski, the 66-year-old party founder.

A leading member of Law and Justice, Mariusz Blaszczak, tried to put a stop to the speculation, saying Monday that Szydlo simply needed "a rest" after the election campaign and that her "role in the formation of the government is key."

A decision on the new Cabinet appointees is expected this week.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the outgoing centrist government of Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz held one of its last meetings, while new members of the lower house of parliament showed up to begin two days of training. There are 215 new members in the 460-seat body.

A date has not yet been set for the parliament to formally convene for the first time, but it must happen by Nov. 24, according to a timetable set by the constitution.