Logo Polskiego Radia

Abstentions over public finance vote threatens government majority?

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 25.07.2013 12:48
Jaroslaw Gowin, running against PM Donald Tusk for leadership of the ruling Civic Platform, plus two other MPs, abstained on a Public Finance Act amendment in parliament.

Jaroslaw Gowin talks to journalists, Thursday: photo - PAP/Jacek Turczyk

Gowin, who was sacked from the Civic Platform/Polish Peasants Party (PSL) coalition government as justice minister in May, and Civic Platform MPs John Godson and Jacek Zalek were not in the chamber of Poland’s lower house of parliament (Sejm) on Wednesday when MPs voted to continue work on the amendment which would allow the government to ease public finance rules on the budget deficit.

The Civic Platform/PSL coalition currently has a slim, five seat majority in the lower house, which leaves it vulnerable to abstentions and rebellions.

Poland’s economy has slowed significantly this year and PM Tusk said last week that the Finance Ministry had to find a way to fill a 24 billion zloty (6 billion euros) hole in this year’s budget after revenues have declined more than envisaged.

But the three MPs have said they cannot support a bill that increases borrowing to what they argue are unsustainable levels.

“I cannot imagine supporting a project which exposes the Polish economy and threatens a borrowing binge,” Jaroslaw Gowin, who is on the conservative wing of the ruling party, told journalists on Thursday morning.

Civic Platform MP Jacek Zalek said yesterday that a vote to ease public finance discipline would set a precedent, allowing budget discipline and borrowing levels to spiral out of control.

This would “threaten to bankrupt [the state] as experienced during the Gierek era,” Zalek told Gazeta Wyborcza, referring to the 1970s in Poland when communist authorities under Edward Gierek borrowed billions from western nations to fuel a short-lived consumer boom.

“ We are confident that our colleagues acted very unfairly against both the government and the rest of the party,” said Rafal Grupinski, head of Civic Platform’s parliamentary party, adding that members voting against the government, or abstaining and breaking the party whip faced being disciplined.

He added, however, that Jaroslaw Gowin was “immune” to party discipline as he is currently in the process of standing against PM Donald Tusk for leadership of the centre-right Civic Platform, which has been in power since 2007, with its coalition partner PSL.

Gowin has called for Civic Platform to “return to its roots”, which are based on “sound public finance and a free market and traditional morals”.

The results of the Civic Platform leadership election are expected in September.

MPs vote again on the Public Finance Act on Friday. (pg)

Copyright © Polskie Radio S.A About Us Contact Us