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How the next Polish government will be chosen

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© Leader of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party Jaroslaw Kaczynski, holds flowers during a speech after the exit poll results are announced in Warsaw, Poland, October 15, 2023. REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

By Marek Strzelecki

WARSAW () -Poland could face weeks or months of uncertainty following Sunday’s election after exit polls showed the incumbent Law and Justice (PiS) remaining the largest party but losing its parliamentary majority.

Exit polls showed PiS, a nationalist party that has clashed repeatedly with the European Union on a range of issues, winning 198 seats in the 460-lawmaker legislature, while the liberal opposition bloc had 248 seats.

Opposition leader Donald Tusk has hailed the outcome as marking the end of PiS rule but Poland faces possibly lengthy coalition negotiations before a new government can take power.

PRESIDENT’S ROLE

The president has 30 days from election day to convene the first session of the new parliament and then 14 days to nominate a candidate for prime minister.

President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, has said he would pick a person from the winning party, suggesting he is likely to opt for a PiS nominee. That could be outgoing Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki or somebody else whom the party decides might have a better chance of assembling a majority.

That candidate then has a further 14 days from the date he or she is nominated by the president to request and win a parliamentary vote of confidence. This means that parliament could end up voting as late as mid-December on a new government.

To win the vote of confidence, the nominee needs an absolute majority in the lower house of parliament, the Sejm, meaning the number of supporters must exceed the number of opponents and abstainers, with at least 230 lawmakers in the chamber at the time of the vote.

SECOND STEP

If the nominee fails to win the vote of confidence, the initiative returns to the Sejm, with lawmakers receiving a further 14 days to nominate another candidate for prime minister. He or she would again need an absolute majority in the Sejm to win the confidence vote.

BACK TO THE PRESIDENT

If the second attempt fails to produce a government, the initiative returns to the president, who has 14 more days to pick a third candidate for prime minister. Parliament has another 14 days to vote, although a simple majority would be enough to secure confidence. A cabinet appointed in this step might prove to be a minority government.

EARLY ELECTION

The process could last as long as into the second half of January. If no cabinet is agreed by then, the president would call another parliamentary election.

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