Polish government in ‘velvet’ reshuffle

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) has replaced several of its senior ministers, including finance minister Teresa Czerwińska. However, it is not clear whether Ms Czerwińska, who allegedly intended to step down a few months ago, was sacked or resigned. She had expressed scepticism over the government’s ability to pay for new social spending programmes earlier this year. Ms Czerwińska has been replaced by Marian Banaś, who previously ran the National Revenue Administration.

Six other ministers have replaced officials who won posts at the European Parliament following last month’s election, including powerful interior minister Joachim Brudziński, a close confidante of one of Law and Justice’s founders and the country’s de facto ruler, Jarosław Kaczyński. Mr Brudziński has been replaced by Elżbieta Witek.

“Significant progress in collaboration between ministries is already visible. I am convinced that the new ministers will jump on this speeding train and after this velvet reshuffle will get down to work,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said during the appointment ceremony at the Presidential Palace.

Jacek Sasin, a former secretary of state in the prime minister’s office, has been promoted to deputy prime minister. Dariusz Piontkowski has replaced Anna Zalewska, the author of a controversial education reform, as minister of education, while Bożena Borys-Szopa has taken over from Elżbieta Rafalska as minister for families, labour and social policy. Michał Dworczyk and Michał Woś were appointed as members of the Council of Ministers.

Law and Justice decided to continue the work of the Social Committee of the Council of ministers, previously run by ex-prime minister Beata Szydło, a post created only when she was replaced by Mateusz Morawiecki in December 2017. The job has been added to the responsibilities of Piotr Gliński, deputy prime minister and minister of culture and national heritage.

In the recent European election, Ms Szydło received the highest number of votes in history — 524,951. The result is surprising as in a recent poll carried out by Kantar Public, Szydło and Kaczyński were voted the worst prime ministers since 1989.