16 Nov, — Poland’s new cabinet of ministers, with PiS Vice-Chairman Beata Szydlo as its head, was sworn in. Its chief distinguishing features are the “shadow” role of the party’s leader Jarosław Kaczyński and continuity.
As Europe Insight reported, the PiS, having won 37.6% of the votes in the recent parliamentary elections, received 235 mandates out of 460 and the right to form a single-party government. Out of 26 ministers, six are women. This is one less than in Eva Kopacz’s government, which consisted of 20 people. The average age of a member of government is 54, for women – 52, and for men – 55. The youngest is the State Treasury Minister David Jackiewicz at 42. And the oldest is Environmental Minister Jan Szyszko, who is 71.
The new cabinet of ministers started its work with a visit to the Warsaw Uprising Museum and by laying flowers on the memorial plaque honouring Lech Kaczyński (former president of Poland and brother of the current PiC leader). Earlier, on 10 November, Jarosław Kaczyński delivered a speech in which he promised to get to the bottom of the catastrophe near Smolensk that resulted in the death of the country’s leadership in 2010.
“This, of course, is a symbol of continuity. Not just with the government itself. It is clear informally that Jarosław Kaczyński will follow in the path of his brother. The main thing is the continuity of the political course of the development of the state and nation. In visiting the memorial, Szydlo and her team are showing the Polish people that they intend to continue Lech Kaczyński’s policy,” said the Vice-President of the Roman Dmowski Foundation, Kazimierz Zablocki.
“The Smolensk ideology became the ideology of the state,” Pawel Wronski of Gazeta Wyborcza stated earlier on TOK FM (quoted by Polityka) with respect to the speech on Independence Day. Continuity is also obvious in the composition of the new staff. 15 of the 26 current ministers have worked in governments that the Law and Justice Party was previously part of. Speaking to this as well is, as political sociologist Wojciech Pantkowski of Campaigning Corp mentioned in a conversation with Europe Insight, not just the fact that people were invited who had worked in government before but also what their names are: it can be discerned that politicians personally loyal to Jarosław Kaczyński are in these ministries.
The current role of the party leader also evoked many questions and criticism. According to columnist Adam Szostkiewicz, Jarosław Kaczyński is in an “extra-constitutional” position where, not occupying any official post in the government, he completely controls it at the same time as not being formally answerable for its decisions (Polityka).
The opposition greeted the new ministers with predictable criticism. In the opinion of Civic Platform member Cezary Tomczyk, one of Szydlo’s main problems is the advanced age of the cabinet members, which goes against the PiS’s declared “rejuvenation” policy. “We were supposed to receive a new, fresh government. But instead we have Antoni Macierewicz, Zbigniew Ziobro and Mariusz Kamiński,” he stated. Democratic Left Alliance leader Leszek Miller has similar complaints. “Several nominations in Beata Szydlo’s government are cause for doubt. In particular Antoni Macierewicz and Zbigniew Ziobro. At the same time, there is hope for others, for example, Mateusz Morawiecki,” said the politician.
The new government in Poland includes, in part:
- First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture and National Heritage – Piotr Gliński
- Minister of Foreign Affairs – Witold Waszczykowski
- Minister of National Defence – Antoni Macierewicz
- Minister of Interior and Administration – Mariusz Błaszczak
- Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Science and Higher Education – Jarosław Gowin
- Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Development – Mateusz Morawiecki
- Minister of Justice – Zbigniew Ziobro
- Minister of National Education – Anna Zalewska
- Minister of Health – Konstanty Radziwiłł
- Minister for European Affairs – Konrad Szymański
- Minister of Environment – Jan Szyszko
- Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development – Krzysztof Jurgiel
- Minister of Finance – Paweł Szałamacha
- Minister of Infrastructure and Construction – Andrzej Adamczyk