By Marek Strzelecki
WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland could face weeks or months of uncertainty following Sunday’s election showed the incumbent Law and Justice (PiS) remaining the largest party but losing its parliamentary majority.
Poland’s presumptive next leader, Donald Tusk, has urged the country’s president not to frustrate the handover of power, after final results from a tight election confirmed he is on course to remove the populist ruling party from government.
Tusk’s opposition Civic Coalition (KO) party finished a close second to the incumbent Law and Justice party, known by its Polish acronym PiS. But the results of Sunday’s election indicated that a coalition between KO and two other pro-European groups is the only realistic combination that could gain a majority in Poland’s parliament.
The president has 30 days from election day to convene the first session of the new parliament and then 14 days to nominate a candidate for prime minister.
President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, has said he would pick a person from the winning party, suggesting he is likely to opt for a PiS nominee. That could be outgoing Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki or somebody else whom the party decides might have a better chance of assembling a majority.
That candidate then has a further 14 days from the date he or she is nominated by the president to request and win a parliamentary vote of confidence. This means that parliament could end up voting as late as mid-December on a new government.
To win the vote of confidence, the nominee needs an absolute majority in the lower house of parliament, the Sejm, meaning the number of supporters must exceed the number of opponents and abstainers, with at least 230 lawmakers in the chamber at the time of the vote.
If the nominee fails to win the vote of confidence, the initiative returns to the Sejm, with lawmakers receiving a further 14 days to nominate another candidate for prime minister. He or she would again need an absolute majority in the Sejm to win the confidence vote.
BACK TO THE PRESIDENT
If the second attempt fails to produce a government, the initiative returns to the president, who has 14 more days to pick a third candidate for prime minister. Parliament has another 14 days to vote, although a simple majority would be enough to secure confidence. A cabinet appointed in this step might prove to be a minority government.
The process could last as long as into the second half of January. If no cabinet is agreed by then, the president would call another parliamentary election.