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08 December 2017, 03:42 | Glen Norman
Poland gets surprise new PM
The announcement was made late Thursday by Beata Mazurek, the Law and Justice party spokeswoman, following meetings at the party's headquarters in Warsaw.
Poland's governing rightwing party on Thursday chose finance minister and ex-banker Mateusz Morawiecki to replace outgoing Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, as the administration focuses more on the economy.
The opposition will try to pass a non-confidence vote against Prime Minister Beata Szydlo on Thursday, which is expected to fail as the ruling party has enough votes in the lower chamber of parliament to block it.
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Deputy Culture Minister Jaroslaw Sellin said the parliamentary vote to appoint Morawiecki as her successor has been set for Tuesday.
Government critics saw the leadership change as mostly a smoke screen to divert attention from a Friday vote on laws that would give the ruling party significant power over Poland's judicial system.
Szydlo has led Poland's government since the conservative party assumed power two years ago. Poland now enjoys record low unemployment, growing wages and growth of over 4 percent per year.
"It is obvious that Jaroslaw Kaczynski is the leader of this camp and he is the one who distributes the cards regardless of who is the prime minister", Henryk Domanski, from the Polish Academy of Sciences, said.
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"The last two years - it was an extraordinary time for me and the service to Poland and Poles was an honour", Szydło said on Twitter.
Szydlo's government insisted that the reforms are needed to root out corruption and purge a judiciary it believes is stacked in favour of supporters of former prime minister Donald Tusk, who is now president of the European Council.
Despite the criticism from overseas, Szydlo's eurosceptic government, in power for two years, was one of the most popular in Poland since the 1989 collapse of communism, largely due to low unemployment, increases in public spending and a focus on traditional Catholic values in public life.
In 2015, Morawiecki gave up his lucrative post as chairman of Bank Zachodni WBK, part of Spain's Santander Group, to join the newly elected PiS-majority government.
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Opposition parties and the European Union (EU) have criticized the bills as anti-democratic and warned of the gradual erosion of the rule of law in the country.
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