Opposition leader feasts on Modern’s carcass

Grzegorz Schetyna creates the Civic Platform-Civic Coalition Caucus by taking in eight former ‘Modern’ MPs.

On Wednesday the Civic Platform (PO) parliamentary caucus changed its name to “Civic Platform-Civic Coalition” to accommodate the arrival of eight former “Modern” deputies. As a result of this action “Modern” ceased to enjoy parliamentary caucus status as it now has fewer than 15 members.

Mr Schetyna, speaking in a radio interview said that “this was not devouring of Modern by the PO. It is rather integrating the opposition and building a joint caucus. It is not a hostile take-over.“

He was answering the remarks made by the “Modern” leader Katarzyna Lubnauer who accused the PO of “devouring” her party and conducting a “hostile take-over of its parliamentary caucus.

Mr Schetyna confirmed that he saw a need for broader integration of the whole opposition in order to win the next election. He acknowledged that this meant attempting an alliance with the Polish People’s Party (PSL) the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) as well as the party being set up by the gay activist and former mayor of Słupsk Robert Biedroń. But he also remarked that “Modern” had failed the Civic Coalition in silesia where one of its councillors defected to the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) thereby handing the province to the governing party.

It remains to be seen if the tactics Mr Schetyna has used in his power play with “Modern” will encourage either PSL or SLD to have dealings with him. On the one hand they will worry that they would lose identity and even control over their own destiny. On the other, now that Modern looks as if it is disintegrating, they would only have to negotiate with the PO to get an electoral alliance. Grzegorz Schetyna is too experienced a politician to believe that he could replicate the kind of tactics he used on “Modern” when dealing with such experienced and seasoned parties such as PSL and SLD. However, whether they will in the end join him will depend on their internal and external calculations and ability to get a good deal on the lists and programme of the alliance, as well as conviction that such an alliance would be likely to win the general election. None of these factors are yet in place.

Opposition leaders hold political talks

On Thursday afternoon, Grzegorz Schetyna and Katarzyna Lubnauer met for the first time since Wednesday's party reshuffle.

Following the over an hour-long meeting, a Civic Platform MP told the Polish Press (PAP) that further talks between Schetyna and Lubnauer were planned.

Mr Schetyna said that the meeting was held under the agenda of "cooperation, the future, and what steps to take next," and stressed that he was "optimistic" about continuing cooperation with the Modern party. He said that the Wednesday reshuffles were "just a part of politics" and that there were no hard feelings between him and Ms Lubnauer.

The Modern party leader said in turn that her aim was a coalition based on partnership and diversity, with each side standing by its basic political ideals. However, she criticised the establishment of the PO-Civic Coalition caucus, arguing that this weakened the Civic Coalition formed by PO, Modern and the Polish Initiative group as only the first two factions joined, without their third coalition partner.