Poland Reshuffles Government: what's going on?

10.01.2018

Poland's new prime minister has reshuffled his Cabinet, ousting the controversial ministers of foreign affairs, defense and the environment in a move aimed at mending relations with partners in the European Union or...? 

Polish politician Konrad Rekas:

 This change has in general an internal nature - as almost all carried out by the Polish ruling powers. The main point in Polish policy is that everything what is done by the Law and Justice (PiS) in international affairs – they make for domestic goals. And at the same time what is done in the country – is a result of full dependence of PiS from the foreign centers of power. 

In this case, Jarosław Kaczyński decided on a non-standard step - and he simply dismissed ministers most criticized by media, the most ridiculed on the internet – so he acted like a a thorough PR specialist, sensitive to public opinion, not as a dictator, how he is seen and described.

Reconstruction could be considered as giving to the Mateusz Morawiecki cabinet more technocratic images, and as a gesture towards the political center and the PiS own voters somewhat embarrassed by the poor opinion of Antoni Macierewicz, Jan Szyszko or Witold Waszczykowski. Above all, however, this move clarifies, and make stronger position of the prime minister himself, who now has almost no rivals in the government, and no one who could pass as an independent leader of the entire United Right camp (Zbigniew Ziobro and Jaroslaw Gowin have positions limited by their role as "PiS coalition partners"). So it looks almost like the pointing of a dolphin, Kaczyński's successor, or at least a PiS candidate in the next presidential election. But in typical PiS way, it could be at the same time the first step to push the dreamer into the abyss, when might-have-been heir will no longer be needed. Especially when Antoni Macierewicz's resignation adds him some heroic charm in eyes of PiS hard voters. His expected election for the seat of the Sejm Speaker – that all will make Macierewicz a natural candidate of PiS radicals against any other pretender from this formation.

And does these changes have any international significance? No.

Bartosz Bekier, xportal.pl:

Dismissal of Antoni Macierewicz means eradication of his sovereign principality formed in Ministry of Defense, which was probably one of the most pro-atlantist component of Polish government, inspired to action with direct American influence. Macierewicz’s tough control over Polish armed forces was also known as a salt in the eye of the president Andrzej Duda, who’s supremacy was illusory on this matter.  Their conflict over nomination of generals was paralyzing many important personal decisions and was a visible proof of disagreements inside the ruling establishment in Poland. Appointment of the new minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, former chief of  Ministry of Interior and Administration, who is rather simple bureaucrat, then ideological crusader seeking foreign support, like Macierewicz, will probably normalize tense situation in the army. Błaszczak’s total loyalty is with the party leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, the gray eminence of Polish government. His appointment means that Kaczyński establishes direct, manual control over the Ministry of Defense.

Replacing Witold Waszczykowski with Jacek Czaputowicz as a chief of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs probably doesn’t change anything beyond political style and certain nuances. Czaputowicz worked with Waszczykowski in the same ministry as the Undersecretary of State. Unlike Waszczykowski, he is a scientist, academic professor specializing in international security and relations, but not political thinker or some sort of ideologist. It means that pro-atlantic positions of Polish government will be probably stated in a more moderate, sophisticated way. Poland is also in need of some “reset” in Polish-EU and Polish-German relations, professor Czaputowicz as a new minister of foreign affairs may be more suitable for this kind of mission. Although his also know for some eurosceptical positions, such as criticizing liberal dogma of indispensability and alleged altruism of EU’s financial subsidies.