On November 6, the president is to announce in his speech who he will designate as prime minister in the so-called first constitutional step. Earlier, the head of PiS’s electoral staff, Joachim Brudziński, said in a radio interview that “there is a custom” that the president gives the mission of forming a government to the leaders of the parties that won the elections. However, within the framework of Law and Justice itself, there was no such custom – it was not the leaders who formed the governments.
This article was first published on October 18, 2023.
Presidential minister and head of the Cabinet of the President of the Republic of Poland Marcin Mastalerek announced on November 6 on website Xthat “President Andrzej Duda has already decided on the so-called first step”, i.e. who to designate as prime minister. Andrzej Duda will announce the decision in a televised address in the evening.
On the post-election Monday, October 16, Joachim Brudziński – vice-chairman of PiS, head of the party’s electoral staff – was asked at RMF FMwho should be given the mission of creating a new government. He replied: “There has been a custom since 1989, or rather since the 1990s, that successive presidents handed the mission to establish a government to the leaders of the parties that won the elections. So it obviously seems to me (…) that President Andrzej Duda will entrust this mission to Law and Justice.
The interviewer asked who exactly. To which Brudziński replied: “For me, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is such an obvious, natural candidate.” To the host’s remark: “so not Jarosław Kaczyński?”, Brudziński replied: “Jarosław Kaczyński is the leader of Law and Justice. Jarosław Kaczyński designated Mateusz Morawiecki as prime minister. Mateusz Morawiecki enjoyed and enjoys – I am convinced – a very high opinion and rating in the eyes of our leader and it seems to me that this mission should be transferred to him.
Therefore, MEP Brudziński stated that “it is customary” that “the mission to appoint a government was given by subsequent presidents to the leaders of the parties that won the elections”; immediately afterwards he said that the leader of PiS is Jarosław Kaczyński, but Mateusz Morawiecki should be given the mission of forming the government. So what “custom” was Brudziński talking about? If, according to him, the custom is that the leaders of the winning parties are given the mission to form the government, there has never been such a custom within the Law and Justice party itself. Until 2023, PiS won the parliamentary elections three times – never once did presidents entrust the mission of forming a government to the actual leader of this party, i.e. Jarosław Kaczyński, and those who received this mission were not considered PiS leaders. We are reminding.
2005: an ordinary PiS MP became prime minister
PiS won the parliamentary elections for the first time on September 25, 2005. On September 27, 2005 – an hour after the National Electoral Commission announced the official election results – Jarosław Kaczyński announced at a press conference that Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz was the candidate for prime minister. At that time, he was a rank-and-file member of PiS, an MP since 1997, in the previous term of office of the Sejm head of the Parliamentary State Treasury Committee.
This candidacy – as written by prof. Antoni Dudek in the book “Political history of Poland 1989-2015” – “did not arouse satisfaction of the PO authorities, who rightly saw it as a step intended to facilitate Lech Kaczyński’s electoral victory.” The brother of the PiS president was then the PiS candidate in the presidential elections, the second round of which took place shortly after the parliamentary elections, on October 23, 2005.
2015: PiS vice-president and treasurer as prime minister
10 years later the situation repeated itself. PiS won the parliamentary elections, taking power from the PO-PSL coalition after eight years. Jarosław Kaczyński was appointed prime minister vice-president and treasurer of this party, MP, head of Andrzej Duda’s presidential campaign – Beata Szydło. As assessed by prof. Antoni Dudek, Szydło’s candidacy was intended to “intensify the positive effect” of PiS candidate Andrzej Duda winning the presidential elections.
2019: continuity of government and prime minister, newly elected PiS MP
When PiS won the parliamentary elections held on October 13, 2019 for the second time in a row, Mateusz Morawiecki had been prime minister for almost two years. He had just won a PiS parliamentary seat, and he became PiS vice-president only two years later, in 2021.
Since 1991, as a result of elections to the Sejm and Senate, nine governments have been established – as we have checked, in five cases the presidents entrusted the mission of creating them to people who were not the heads of the winning parties. We are talking about: – Waldemar Pawlak, president of PSL, designated as prime minister after SLD won the elections in 1993; – Jerzy Buzek, a little-known Solidarity activist from Silesia, who was not at all in the authorities of the Solidarity Electoral Action group that won in 1997; – and about the already mentioned Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, Beata Szydło and Mateusz Morawiecki – who not only were not the heads of PiS, but were not even party leaders.
Therefore, it is difficult to talk about the “established custom” of entrusting the mission of forming a government to the leaders of the parties that won the elections.
The president’s or party’s decision? Constitution for yourself, political practice for yourself
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, the president appoints a person whose task, after the elections, is to create a new government. This is what Art. 154 of the Constitution:
The President of the Republic of Poland designates the Prime Minister, who proposes the composition of the Council of Ministers. The President of the Republic of Poland appoints the Prime Minister together with the other members of the Council of Ministers within 14 days from the date of the first sitting of the Sejm or the acceptance of the resignation of the previous Council of Ministers and takes the oath from the members of the newly appointed Council of Ministers.
This means that designating the prime minister is one of the president’s exclusive prerogatives, and he is formally free to choose the person to whom he will entrust the mission of forming the government.
However, political practice in Poland is slightly different, and the president’s role was sometimes limited to accepting the decisions of the authorities of individual parties.
Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz was designated prime minister by President Aleksander Kwaśniewski on October 19, 2005 – three weeks after his candidacy was publicly announced by PiS president Jarosław Kaczyński.
Kaczyński presented Beata Szydło’s candidacy for prime minister a few months before the elections – on June 25, 2015, and President Andrzej Duda entrusted her with the mission of forming a government on November 13, 2015.
As for Mateusz Morawiecki, even before the elections – on September 4, 2019 – Jacek Sasin announced that Morawiecki would be prime minister, and after the elections, first the composition of the government on November 8, 2019 approved the PiS Political Committee, and only on November 14, 2019, Mateusz Morawiecki received President Duda’s mission to form a government.
“Mr. President, people are waiting”
October 17, Chairman of the Civic Platform Donald Tusk made a statement, in which he addressed “a passionate appeal to the president.” – People are waiting for the first decisions that will be a consequence of these elections. So I would like to ask the president for energetic and quick decisions – he said. As Tusk emphasized, “the winning democratic parties are in constant contact and are ready to take over responsibility for government in the country at any time.” – But, as we know, the president is constitutionally responsible for this process of transfer of power. Mr. President, people are waiting. For example, teachers for these thirty percent raises or the budget sphere. Quick decisions also mean a sense of relief and satisfaction for those who have been waiting for this change, said the PO leader.
Same day head of the president’s office, Paweł Szrot In the PAP Studio, when asked when President Andrzej Duda would start consultations with parliamentary circles to elect a new government, he replied that “the president has time for it” and the term of office of the current Sejm expires on November 14. He added that in his opinion the president should not do anything with “excessive haste” and assured that all constitutional procedures would be followed.
As a result of the elections on October 15, five parties entered the Sejm. How reported by the National Electoral Commission On October 17, when announcing the final result of the vote, Law and Justice won 35.38 percent of the votes, Civic Coalition – 30.70 percent, Trzecia Droga – 14.40 percent, New Left – 8.61 percent, and Confederation – 7.16 percent of the votes. . The democratic opposition therefore has 248 seats, i.e. it has a parliamentary majority.
Voter turnout was record-breaking after 1989 – it amounted to 74.38 percent.