Polish President Duda offers PiS first go at forming new government

Polish President Duda offers PiS first go at forming new government
A still from the November 6 address by President Andrzej Duda / President Duda's office
By Wojciech Kosc in Warsaw November 6, 2023

Poland’s still incumbent Law and Justice (PiS) party will attempt to form a new government, despite losing its parliamentary majority in the election last month, President Andrzej Duda said on November 6.

In a televised address, Duda said he will nominate Mateusz Morawiecki – the incumbent prime minister – as the next PM. The president’s decision goes against the grain of the political situation in Poland, where the anti-PiS opposition – which has 248 seats in the 460-seat parliament – is ready to take over power from PiS and has proffered the one-time PM Donald Tusk as its PM candidate.

The opposition’s budding government will be a tripartite coalition of Tusk’s Civic Coalition, the conservative Third Way and the Left.

"It's a waste of time, it's just a waste of time for Poland," Tusk commented on Duda's decision at a meeting with voters in Wroclaw. 

PiS only won 194 parliamentary seats, 37 short of the minimum required for a majority. The party continues to claim it can build a majority to form a government despite all other parties – including the far-right – refusing to co-operate.

“Representatives of PiS, which achieved the best result in the elections, and the Civic Coalition, which came in second, each presented their candidates for the position of prime minister and expressed their willingness to form a government,” Duda said.

The president also said that during talks he held with the parties in October that “each party expressed the belief that they would gather the necessary majority in the new parliament to support their candidate and the future government as a whole.”

“After careful analysis … I have decided to entrust the mission of forming the government to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. In doing so, I have chosen to continue the good parliamentary tradition in which the winning party is given the first opportunity to create a government,” Duda also said.

The president’s decision drew immediate criticism from the opposition.

“President Andrzej Duda consistently serving PiS. At a time when the parliamentary majority is on the side of the democratic coalition, nominating … Morawiecki is not just a delaying tactic and a denial of reality; it's also a deliberate play on the emotions of all voters,” Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, Tusk’s close associate, said on X.

Duda can only formally hand Morawiecki the nomination up to 14 days after the first sitting of the new parliament, due on November 13.

After that, Morawiecki will have 14 days to present the government line-up for a confidence vote in the parliament, giving PiS another five weeks in power until the government-building initiative switches to the parliament.

"The mission entrusted to me by President Andrzej Duda is a great honour but also a challenge ... I invite all parliamentarians who put Poland first to cooperate," Morawiecki said on his social media.

PiS has been making noises since the election that it is ready to work with other parties to form the next government. The agrarian party PSL - part of the coalition being put together by Tusk - has been a particular target, with PiS going as far as offering the premiership to PSL leader Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz.

"It's clear what the majority is and we're doing our work," Kosiniak-Kamysz said on X.