WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s president on Monday tapped outgoing Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to try to form a new government even though his Law and Justice party lost its parliamentary majority in a national election three weeks ago.
The decision by President Andrzej Duda was likely to delay formation of a new government in Poland, the fifth most populous country in the European Union, because the opposition won enough votes in the Oct. 15 election to take control of Parliament and oust the nationalist and conservative government after eight years in power.
Duda, an ally of the current government, said Law and Justice should get the first chance to form a government since it remains the country’s biggest party. If Morawiecki fails, it will be up to Parliament to propose a prime minister and he will immediately endorse the candidate, the president added.
“Following a calm analysis and consultations I have decided to task Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki with the mission of forming a government,” Duda said in a televised address. “I decided to continue the good parliamentary tradition according to which the winning party is the first to be given the opportunity to form a government.”
Opposition politicians criticized Duda’s decision, saying it creates political uncertainty while delaying the inevitable formation of a government under the opposition’s leader, former EU president Donald Tusk, at a time of trouble in the world.
“At a difficult geopolitical moment, the president is treating us to more weeks of chaos and bad political cabaret,” said Grzegorz Schetyna, of Tusk’s Civic Platform party.
Another opposition politician, Kamila Gasiuk-Pihowicz, said Duda’s tapping of Morawiecki as prime minister “is a conscious action to the detriment of Poland and against the will of the Polish nation.”
Morawiecki reacted by describing his new mission as a “great honor but also a challenge.”
“I invite all lawmakers for whom Poland is the most important to cooperate,” Morawiecki wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
His party members have suggested they will try to win over lawmakers from opposition parties.
The three opposition parties together won 248 seats in the 460-seat lower house of Parliament in a big win for Tusk, who was Poland’s prime minister in 2007-14 and served as European Council president, a top job in the EU, in 2014-19.
The result indicated many Poles wanted to head in a new direction after Law and Justice’s repeated clashes with the EU over laws that increased the party’s power over the judicial branch, eroding the separation of powers.
If Morawiecki fails to win backing in Parliament, as expected, Poland might not have a new government in place until mid-December.
Duda must appoint the new Morawiecki government within 14 days of the first session of the new Parliament, which convenes next Monday. Morawiecki will then have a further 14 days to face a confidence vote. If he fails to win it, it would fall to Parliament to appoint its choice for prime minister.