Poland's president officially designates new prime minister

AP News
Posted: Nov 13, 2015 10:34 AM
Poland's president officially designates new prime minister

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's president officially designated Beata Szydlo from the right-wing Law and Justice party the country's new prime minister on Friday, largely a formality since the new government's make-up has been known for days.

The Euroskeptic party won a parliamentary majority in an election nearly three weeks ago. Cabinet appointees were announced on Monday.

President Andrzej Duda, who comes from the same party, formally designated Szydlo in a ceremony in Warsaw at the presidential palace on Friday, kissing her on the hand and cheeks and presenting her with flowers.

It is the start of a new political era in Poland, with both houses of parliament and the presidency controlled by Law and Justice, and with the party leader and founder, former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, clearly holding huge power within the party.

Many of the government appointments are Kaczynski's longtime allies, creating the impression that he, rather than Szydlo, is calling the shots.

During Friday's ceremony Duda turned to Kaczynski and paid homage to him, praising him as a political "visionary" for taking the risk of choosing himself and Szydlo candidates for the country's top political jobs.

The party, viewed as too radical by many Poles, was out of power for eight years but swept back into office this year with Kaczynski putting up Duda and Szydlo, younger candidates with more moderate images, rather than running himself for either post.

"You are a great strategist," Duda told him. "But I must also add that you are a great man."

Szydlo's government will be sworn in Monday, completing a major power shift in Poland after the centrist and pro-European Civic Platform party lost both presidential and parliamentary elections this year to Law and Justice.

The outgoing prime minister, Ewa Kopacz, resigned Thursday as the newly-elected parliament convened for the first time.

Kopacz also announced Friday that she would not remain as the leader of Civic Platform. She said she would not take part in upcoming leadership elections within the party for the sake of its unity.