July 15, 2024

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The Polish parliament is meeting for the first time on Monday after an election last month heralded a change of course for the Central European nation at a time of war across the border in Ukraine.

Following a choreography determined by the constitution, President Andrzej Duda will address the ceremonial opening of the newly elected legislature. The lawmakers will take their oaths and elect a speaker.

The outgoing prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, must resign with his government, though he is expected to remain as a caretaker premier, perhaps for weeks, because Duda has delayed the transition of power.

After the ceremonies in both houses of parliament, Duda will entrust Morawiecki with the mission of forming another government, Malgorzata Paprocka, a minister in the president’s office, told the state news agency PAP.

Morawiecki’s ruling party received more votes than any other single party in the election but fell short of a majority, getting 194 seats in the 460-member lower house, or Sejm. Still, Duda, an ally of Law and Justice, has given Morawiecki the first chance to form a government. The party has no coalition partner and its attempt to build a government is seen as doomed to fail. The attempt could delay Poland having a new functioning government by up to four weeks.

The lawmakers elected to the lower house of parliament will gather at noon. The 100-seat Senate will follow with its first session later in the afternoon. Both bodies have been chosen for a four-year term.

The winning alliance includes parties ranging from conservatives to the left. They ran separately but promising to work together to restore democratic norms after eight years of rule by Law and Justice, a nationalist conservative party that was in conflict with the European Union.

The winning coalition alliance, in contrast, holds a majority of 248 seats in the Sejm. The party leaders signed a coalition agreement and say they are ready to start governing. They say they aim to repair foreign alliances and will work to release billions of euros in EU funds that were frozen due to Law and Justice’s erosion of judicial independence.

Their candidate for prime minister is Donald Tusk, 66, an experienced politician who held that position already from 2007-14 and then went on to be a top leader of the EU in the role of European Council president from 2014-19.

The coalition’s candidate for speaker of the Sejm is Szymon Holownia, the leader of the Poland 2050 party and a rising star in Polish politics.

Piotr Mueller, the Law and Justice government spokesman, acknowledged that it will be “extremely difficult” for Morawiecki to form a new government. But he told TVN24 that it Morawiecki’s duty to try after Duda entrusted him with the mission. If he fails, Tusk will be the next prime minister, Mueller said.

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