Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz took over as the Polish prime minister Monday, heading a minority government that includes ministers from outside his socially conservative Law and Justice Party. Poland will be led by a party with roots in the Solidarity movement that helped topple communism, but no coalition has been formed with Civic Platform, another center-right party that favors speedier market reforms.
Marcinkiewicz said he would continue to seek Civic Platform's support, even though talks between the two parties broke down last week over the division of top posts.
He pointed to the presence of nonparty members in the cabinet as an effort to broaden its base of support. "We need a team of outstanding experts, not only those gathered here, to implement the program of mending" the state, Marcinkiewicz said after his government was sworn in by President Aleksander Kwasniewski.
"We must respond to the hopes of the Poles, that this government will implement the program," Marcinkiewicz said. Among the ministers chosen from outside the Law and Justice Party were Foreign Minister Stefan Meller, Finance Minister Teresa Lubinska and Health Minister Zbigniew Religa.
Others were party loyalists such as Defense Minister Radek Sikorski, a former deputy defense and deputy foreign minister in previous conservative governments. Law and Justice and Civic Platform ousted the ex-communist government of former Prime Minister Marek Belka in the Sept. 25 election. But the two center-right parties then fell out over their differing economic and social policies.
Law and Justice wants to cut taxes but has said it will keep social welfare benefits for the less fortunate. It also aims to crack down on crime and corruption, purge former communists from positions of influence and defend traditional Roman Catholic values. Civic Platform wants to restrain government spending to prepare for the adoption of the euro. Law and Justice has 155 seats in the 460-seat Parliament, but it can win election with informal support from three smaller parties: the anti-EU, populist Self-Defense, the rural Polish Peasants' Party and the Roman Catholic conservative Polish Families' League, reports Herald Tribune. I.L.
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