Sunday, 21 September 2014

Government reshuffle

The expected course of events after former prime minister’s Tusk appointment to the office of the President of the European Council was his resignation from the position he had held for almost 2,500 days (the longest tenure in the history of Poland after 1989). A quite natural and in my humble opinion, most suitable candidate for his successor was Elzbieta Bienkowska, until recently deputy prime minister, in charge of ministry of infrastructure and development. Fortunately and unfortunately for Poland, Mrs Bienkowska will continue her career within EU structures as European Commissioner what precludes her from taking over as prime minister, a function she would definitely be eligible for (she’s got balls!).

Instead, Ewa Kopacz, former minister of health and speaker of parliament hitherto, was nominated as the new prime minister and entrusted the mission to form a new government. As my former boss told me, each new leader in an organisation, to justify they are the right person in the right place, needs to turn something upside down within the first months since taking up the new job. In the corporate world one needs a few months to get familiar with how an organisation functions before one initiates bringing about a change. In politics, before setting out to do the job, a new leader must elect members of its team. The mere change of a prime minister was hence out of question and Mrs Kopacz, to reinforce her position and independence in personal choices, had to do a reshuffle.

I dare to argue some of the nominations have been at least puzzling. Radoslaw Sikorski, despite my reservations regarding his (feigned) impeccable manners, was generally a decent foreign minister and especially well capable of representing Poland abroad. I doubt given his traits he has all makings of a good speaker of the parliament (what a demotion for him!) and I particularly have doubts how his successor, Mr Schetyna, will rise to the challenge… Nevertheless, Mr Schetyna, designated for one of the most prominent functions, is rising like phoenix from ashes. For years, as an informal opponent of Mr Tusk’s headship in the civic platform, he was on the sidelines of the Polish politics, for many bound to stay in the background until eventual withdrawal from politics. His sudden comeback is a great chance for him, but also, to put it mildly, an enormous challenge.

Mr Grabarczyk in charge of the ministry of justice… sounds ludicruous… I particularly dislike the chap (as I not tend to like people who hold their head up high) and if there is a person in the Civic Platform that could embody hubris and arrogance the party has recently stood for, Mr Grabarczyk can serve as an excellent example.

Another would-be minister who in my subjective opinion might not be the most qualified candidate, is Maria Wasiak, the new head of ministry of infrastructure and development. The very ministry, by dint of intricacy of issues it deals with, needs to be run by a person who is not only competent, but also, as Mrs Bienkowska, have balls. She was the CEO of Polish State Railways since 2011 (acting since 2010) and I do not see a significant turnaround in the workings of the Polish Rail Transport, although things could have been far worse and choice could have been far worse, given media speculation of Mr Nowak’s comeback…

I wish the new ministers all the best in their new roles, bearing in mind for some the tenures will be short. When I look at the make-up of the newly formed government, I hold the view it has been brought together to last out until the next election. And because most likely it will be less efficient then the one headed be seasoned prime minister Tusk and with fewer competent experts, odds of PiS winning the 2015 parliamentary election have just risen. Mr Tusk and Mrs Bienkowska have already made their leaps forward and jumped into EU-marked lifeboats. I am pretty sure they will foster our interests there (keeping in mind their mandate is to primary represent interests of all EU members), but Civic Platform’s strength in the Polish politics is bound to wane without them on board…

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