Poland's premier plans new government by Nov 22

AP News
Posted: Oct 13, 2011 10:51 AM
Poland's premier plans new government by Nov 22

Poland's prime minister dismissed calls from a rising left-wing leader to get rid of a Christian cross in the mainly Catholic country's parliament, as he revealed plans to form a new government by Nov. 22 that will involve some Cabinet changes.

Tusk's pro-market and pro-European party, Civic Platform, clinched the most votes in Sunday's elections, the first time in the 22-year post-communist era that a ruling party has not been kicked out.

Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski announced Thursday that the newly elected parliament would hold its first sitting on Nov. 8 and Tusk said he would then present a reshuffled Cabinet to the parliament for a confidence vote.

Civic Platform governed over the past four years with the small farm-based Polish People's Party, a coalition that both party leaders said they want to continue.

Together the two parties hold a narrow majority of 235 votes in the 460-seat lower house of parliament, and could therefore easily survive the confidence vote and continue governing together. Tusk said he expects his new government to be sworn in by Nov. 22.

"Changes in the government will be more than cosmetic, but there won't be a revolution," Tusk said at a news conference in Warsaw.

He said Health Minister Ewa Kopacz would be his candidate for the new parliamentary speaker, one of the most influential positions in the Polish political system. If she is confirmed in that post, Tusk would need to name a new health minister.

He did not give any other indication of which ministers would stay or go.

Tusk also challenged Janusz Palikot, the leader of a new anti-clerical movement that won representation in parliament for the first time. Palikot's Movement won 10 percent of the vote, making it the third largest force in the new parliament.

Palikot vowed Thursday to fight for the removal of a cross hanging in parliament. He said he is even ready to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The cross "should not be in parliament and in other public places," said Palikot, who advocates a strict separation of church and state.

Tusk lashed out at Palikot, accusing him of stirring up unneeded ideological disputes.

The cross was put up in parliament after Poland shed communism in 1989. At the time it was a sign of the state's rejection of all communist-era practices, including a ban on religious symbols in public places.

Tusk also said he plans to make his first major policy speech to the parliament around Dec. 6.