New Government Launched
A new conservative government with a pro-American stance took over Monday from former communists in Poland - although whether the new team will extend the country's deployment of 1,500 troops in Iraq remains unclear.
New Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz will lead with a minority in parliament after his Law and Justice party failed to strike a coalition deal with fellow conservatives from Civic Platform.
The two parties won a combined majority and swept the ex-communist government of Prime Minister Marek Belka from power in the Sept. 25 election. But the one-time allies fell out over the division of top posts and their differing economic and social policies. Law and Justice favors more social welfare and Civic Platform wanted to cut spending.
Marcinkiewicz pointed to the presence of nonparty members in the Cabinet, including Foreign Minister Stefan Meller, Finance Minister Teresa Lubinska and Health Minister Zbigniew Religa, in appealing for support for his new team, which faces a vote of confidence in parliament on Nov. 10, as stipulated by the constitution.
"We need a team of outstanding experts, not only those gathered here, to implement the program of mending of the state and of its individual elements," 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."
The new ruling party has taken a strong, pro-American position, as did the previous government. Analysts say Poland is looking increasingly to its relationship with Washington as ties with Russia deteriorate.
Marcinkiewicz's party ally, President-elect Lech Kaczynski, has said his first foreign visit will be to Washington, though no date has been announced. New Defense Minister Radek Sikorski is regarded as valuing strong ties with the United States, although he has been critical of Washington for not repaying Poland for its support in Iraq.
Marcinkiewicz said after being sworn in that the decision to pull out of Iraq early next year stands for the moment.