Poland's new prime minister sworn in with old Cabinet

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Posted: Dec 11, 2017 1:37 PM
Poland's new prime minister sworn in with old Cabinet

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's new prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, was officially sworn into office Monday along with the Cabinet members who served under his predecessor.

The country's prime minister of the last two years, Beata Szydlo, was sworn in as deputy prime minister during the ceremony at the Presidential Palace.

There had been speculation in Poland Monday that the Cabinet might undergo immediate changes. That proved not to be the case as the other ministers took their oaths one-by-one and signed declarations pledging to observe the Constitution.

Morawiecki, who previously held the posts of deputy prime minister and minister of finance and development, was picked last week to head the government by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the powerful leader of the ruling Law and Justice party. Kaczynski attended the swearing-in ceremony.

The new prime minister said his task will also be to preserve Poland's national identity and culture.

"This will be a government of continuation," and of "hope and optimism," Morawiecki said, adding that prosperity for families, well-paid jobs and affordable housing would be priorities.

Szydlo was popular among Poles, but the country's image abroad has suffered as a result of the conservative government's refusal to accept migrants, pursuit of logging in a virgin forest and more assertive stance toward Germany.

Perhaps the most critical point of controversy has been the way Law and Justice has consolidated the government's control over the judiciary, something the European Union sees as a violation of the rule of law.

Explaining the switch in leadership, party officials said the government needs to focus on the economy, which has grown in recent years but is seen as in need of a push for innovation — and to improve Poland's standing in the European Union and with other foreign nations.

Morawiecki, a former banker who speaks English and German, is seen as better prepared to represent Poland internationally.

These goals can be met with a "flourishing economy, when all pillars of the economy are developing," he said.

He is set to make his first policy speech Tuesday to Poland's parliament and will face a confidence vote from lawmakers on Wednesday. The ruling party has a majority in parliament, so his approval as prime minister is all but certain.

Morawiecki suggested earlier there would be some changes to the Cabinet in January.