Poland’s Kaczynski Set to Replace Beata Szydlo, Report Says

Minister Beata Szydlo

Polish ruling-party head Jaroslaw Kaczynski will take over as prime minister next month, Newsweek said, a move that would end weeks of speculation and give the eastern European nation’s top job to its most-powerful politician, Bloomberg reports.

Kaczynski will replace Beata Szydlo, who’s halfway into a four-year term, amid infighting among her ministers, Poland’s edition of Newsweek reported Monday, citing people familiar with the situation that it didn’t name. Kaczynski, who served as premier in 2006-2007, has pledged to keep Poland on the path of “pride, independence and strength” with his Law & Justice party locked in an unprecedented clash with the European Union over democratic standards.

With Szydlo flagging government changes, Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin said Nov. 6 that party leaders are considering all options, including a switch of prime minster. Kaczynski, 68, picked Szydlo partly because of his own negative poll rankings, showing him as one of the country’s least-trusted politicians.

Kaczynski has agreed that President Andrzej Duda, a former Law & Justice backbencher, will effectively run foreign policy and attend EU summits, according to Newsweek. Increasing state control of the media and judiciary has put Poland on a collision course with the European Commission, which has begun the first-ever probe into whether a member state is adhering to the bloc’s rule-of-law standards.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council and a former Polish premier for the opposition Civic Platform, lashed out at Law & Justice on Sunday, saying it was forwarding Russian interests by taking itself out of the EU mainstream, undermining the bloc’s values and escalating conflicts with neighbors.

“Strident dispute with Ukraine, isolation in the European Union, walking away from rule of law and judicial independence, attack on non-governmental sector and free media,” Tusk said on Twitter. “Law & Justice strategy or Kremlin plan? Too similar to sleep well.”

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