Miller Resigns SLD Chairmanship As Infighting Begins

Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "New Warsaw Express"

Prime Minister Leszek Miller on Tuesday announced he would relinquish the leadership of Poland's governing social democrat party. He will remain PM but the decision is seen as the first major internal setback for Miller after his Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) slipped to a lowly fifth and as little as 12-13 percent support in recent opinion polls. The changeover of power is expected at the National Convention on March 6.
The SLD's immediate worry is humiliation in Poland's first European parliament elections in June. One of this week's polls suggested the party would get only 10 of 54 Polish Euro-MPs, and the main centre right parties ? 28.
"If the party was working well, we wouldn't have only 13 percent support. Today we should not just be subjecting the SLD to a spring cleaning ? but rather a full-scale renovation," said jovial Warsaw MP Ryszard Kalisz, summing up the mood.
The party's progressive liberal wing argues the main problem is the wave of corruption scandals at a local level, with corruption rows in Bydgoszcz and the central Poland town of Starachowice hitting the headlines yet again this week. In Starachowice, local MPs and deputy minister Zbigniew Sobotka are accused of tipping off gangsters about a police raid. The party in Bydgoszcz is under fire for allegedly passing public funds to the SLD through a local sports club.
The other argument, for now in the minority, is that the poll results are chiefly about spending cutbacks the government is trying to push through parliament. The party's post-communist hardliners say cuts in social spending are eating into the SLD's core voter base. But ministers argue the reforms are vital to avoid a financial crisis over the next three years that would hit the poor with redoubled force.
After confirming his resignation from the leadership on Tuesday, Miller named four candidates for the role. The most interesting was ex-deputy economy minister Jolanta Banach, who resigned in protest at the planned cuts. But the biggest unspoken name was Miller's main internal rival, former leader Jozef Oleksy, who on Thursday hinted Miller could also soon face calls to step down as PM.


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