Lepper Sacked, Elections Eminent
It looks like Andrzej Lepper might be off to his farm sooner than expected. The deputy prime minister has just been sacked by the prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. But the leader of the populist Self-Defence (Samoobrona) Party wasn't fired for promoting relations with Russia, being anti-European Union, or accusing a member of the PO (Civic Platform) Party of dealing with the Taliban (though he did do all of those things), but for being linked to a corruption scandal involving bribes.
The charge is not very surprising given Lepper's record; the former Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development had been sacked last year in a dispute over the budget, but was welcomed back when the coalition was being formed. Lepper has also been charged with criminal offences such as slander, assault, blocking roads and other offences during his many anti-government demonstrations and election campaigns. His promotion to Deputy Prime Minister was seen as an insult by many Poles, and undoubtedly many are celebrating his dismissal right now.
But what does this mean for the Polish government? Now that Lepper's Self-Defence party has withdrawn from the coalition, where it held 10% of the seats of the lower house of parliament, the government now can only count on the support of only 203 of 460 deputies, not enough for a majority. The only solution seems to be early elections, which the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) party is pushing for. Kaczynski said he's not afraid of early elections; we'll see how confident he'll be in a few months, when elections could be underway - two years ahead of schedule. The rest of Poland can only hope that the next Deputy Prime Minister is not only free of corruption, but at least has had some formal higher education.