Deputy PM Gowin resigns but government majority still intact

Deputy PM Jarosław Gowin has resigned from the government. His Agreement party which is allied to Law and Justice (PiS) remains within the coalition and has recommended Jadwiga Emilewicz, the Development Minister, to be the Deputy PM.

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Deputy PM Jarosław Gowin has resigned from the government. His Agreement party which is allied to Law and Justice (PiS) remains within the coalition and has recommended Jadwiga Emilewicz, the Development Minister, to be the Deputy PM. Mr Gowin announced his and his party’s decision at a press conference. He said that he had argued within the ruling coalition that a change in the electoral code should not be introduced in time for the Presidential election on May 10. He was referring to the PiS proposal to organise an absentee ballot by post. His position was not accepted and the legislation draft, which is to be voted on in Parliament, would enable the poll to go ahead on 10 May.

The outgoing Deputy PM told journalists that he would not support that legislation. However, he acknowledged that most MPs from his grouping will support that measure. He also said that he would continue to argue and lobby for a constitutional amendment extending the President’s term of office to allow the election to be delayed.

Jarosław Gowin hinted that he did not feel that the legislation on postal ballots would be implemented in time for 10 May, as the Senate was likely to delay the legislation for 30 days. He also reminded journalists about the health minister’s position, that he would not make any recommendation on holding the election until mid-April.

Mr Gowin rejected the opposition’s demands for the introduction of a state of natural disaster. He said that to do so would oblige the government to pay compensation for lost income to many companies, including major international conglomerates. This he felt was totally and utterly unrealistic.

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Mr Gowin disagrees with PiS and its leader over holding the election on 10 May. And he was prepared to resign over the matter rather than back down.

But he and his supporters do not bring down the government over this issue. Nor do they actually oppose postal balloting, they only feel that this should not happen as quickly as 10 May and want to see that election delayed.

But they do not have the answer on how this delay could take effect, since the opposition rejects amending the constitution and is suggesting a state of natural disaster which Mr Gowin acknowledges could be ruinous for the Polish state.

Nor do they say how the election should be resumed if it does get postponed. Should it resume with the candidates already in place? Or should the whole process be annulled and the election re-started all over again, with the potential for new candidates to emerge. The latter would happen if all candidates agreed to withdraw from the current poll, but that is even less likely than a constitutional amendment.

Mr Gowin has behaved honourably. His party has behaved pragmatically. As a result the government and its parliamentary majority survive. A major political crisis has been averted , for now. But the question of whether the election is really going to go ahead and on what basis still remains.


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