Polish leader sets deadline for pact

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland's prime minister, has given his rebellious coalition partners until the end of this week to agree to a new pact requiring them to fall in line or parliamentary elections could be called as early as this November.

Polish leader sets deadline for pact
The coalition has lurched from crisis to crisis since the 2005 elections. To form a government, Mr Kaczynski's Law and Justice party (PiS) teamed up with leftwing populists from the Self-Defence party and religious nationalists from the League of Polish Families.

But a confrontation this month appears to have ended what little trust remained among the leaders of the three parties. All of them now appear to be positioning themselves for an early vote.

The crisis broke out July 9 when Mr Kaczynski fired Andrzej Lepper, leader of Self-Defence and deputy prime minister, saying he had been linked to a corruption investigation.

Mr Lepper has not been charged, and it now turns out that the investigation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau, an elite agency under Mr Kaczynski's control, was a sting operation to entrap officials at Mr Lepper's agriculture ministry.

Mr Lepper is fighting back against Mr Kaczynski with the help of the third coalition partner, Roman Giertych, the leader of the League of Polish Families.

The two smaller parties have decided to band together and form a new party, which has made its main goal opposing the proposed European treaty supported by Law and Justice.

The prime minister has reacted by sending the two leaders a seven-point letter demanding that they support the government and reject the creation of a commission to investigate the sting operation. He gave them until the end of this week to answer.

The government is waiting "for a clear declaration if they want to continue the coalition or if they are uninterested, then obviously we would approach the scenario of elections," said Przemyslaw Gosiewski, a PiS deputy prime minister.

Mr Lepper said he will not formally answer Mr Kaczynski until the end of August, but he has already called the prime minister's conditions unacceptable.

The new party sent its own 10-point list of conditions back to Law and Justice, which includes demands for higher social spending.

Mr Giertych, the education minister, meanwhile, said he has cleared out his office: "I feel there is a 99 per cent chance that I will not return to the ministry after the holidays."

FT

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Temmuz 2007, 10:05
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