WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish leaders lashed out Monday at the head of the European Parliament for saying political developments under the new right-wing government in Poland are akin to a "coup d'etat."
Martin Schulz, who is German, told Germany's Deutschlandfunk radio Monday: "What is happening in Poland has the character of a coup d'etat and is dramatic. I assume that this week or in January at the latest we will have to discuss this extensively in the European Parliament."
He was referring to developments under the ruling Law and Justice party, which won a parliamentary majority in an October election and now aims to increase influence over the Constitutional Tribunal in a way critics say is undemocratic.
The words sparked an angry reaction in Warsaw.
Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said Schulz's words are "unacceptable" and she said she expects an apology from him.
Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski — who has asked Poland's ambassador to the EU to meet with Schulz over the matter — called the coup remark "unfounded and therefore irresponsible."
"Such a high-ranking politician should be far better informed before making public statements," Waszczykowski said in a statement.
"He should at least know that Poland has recently seen a free and democratic election whose results are undisputed, and that now in Poland, as in many other democratic countries, we are simply having a normal political debate about institutional solutions," Waszczykowski said.
It was the second dispute between Schulz and Poland's month-old government.
Last month, Schulz criticized Poland's government, which is anti-migrant, for what he called a lack of solidarity in dealing with the refugee crisis. Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak reacted by calling Schulz's words "scandalous" and "another example of German arrogance."