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Poland’s ruling coalition crumbles as PM dumps junior partner

Government spokesman predicts ruling Law and Justice party will be able to maintain a parliamentary majority after deputy premier Jaroslaw Gowin sacked

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks with the media as he arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, on May 24, 2021. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool via AP, File)
Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks with the media as he arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, on May 24, 2021. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool via AP, File)

WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s ruling coalition collapsed on Tuesday after Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki dismissed his deputy Jaroslaw Gowin — the head of a junior coalition party.

“My dismissal is de facto a rupture of the governing coalition,” Gowin told reporters.

Gowin and his Agreement party have been increasingly at odds with the main coalition partner, the populist right-wing Law and Justice party, in recent months.

But his departure does not mean that the government collapses automatically, as there would need to be a formal vote of no confidence by parliament.

Gowin’s party holds 10 seats in parliament and their departure deprives the government of its majority and could force it to seek the support of the far-right.

“I am not convinced that we will lose our majority because of this,” government spokesman Piotr Muller said.

In this file photo from April 6, 2020, Polish deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Gowin, center, announces to reporters that he has resigned from his government position in Warsaw, Poland. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, file)

“I am sure that there are people in the United Right [coalition] and the rest of the Polish parliament who will support the beneficial reforms that we are proposing,” he said.

“The actions of deputy prime minister Gowin undermine confidence in the government’s actions,” Muller told reporters.

Gowin explained the break saying he disagreed with the government on tax increases and a proposed law that could force the United States group Discovery to sell off most of its stake in Poland’s main private TV network TVN.

“We are leaving the government with our heads held high,” Gowin said, adding that he had found out about his dismissal from the media.

“We said that the United Right would not raise taxes. But the proposed budget law recently presented by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki means a drastic increase in taxes,” he said.

The government crisis comes amid tensions with Israel that have peaked with a spat over a law being advanced by Warsaw that could prevent restitution to heirs of property seized by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Issues of Holocaust restitution and revisionism have repeatedly plagued Israeli-Polish ties.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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