Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, has dismissed several cabinet-level ministers as the ruling rightwing Law and Justice party seeks to improve strained relations with Brussels.
Law and Justice (PiS) is riding high in opinion polls, but remains under pressure from the European commission and several EU countries over its recent move to assert control over the country’s justice system.
In response to concerns that the rule of law was at risk in Poland, the European commission took the unprecedented step last month of initiating a process that could lead to the country being stripped of of its voting rights at EU institutions. Brussels has accused Warsaw of subverting the fundamental values expected of a democratic state by allowing political interference in its courts.
Morawiecki, a former finance minister, was appointed as prime minister in December, tasked with improving Poland’s deteriorating position in the EU.
The most high-profile of cabinet dismissals was that of Antoni Macierewicz, a veteran politician with ties to the radical nationalist right, whose tenure as defence minister was dogged by concerns over his radical restructuring of the armed forces, which put national security at risk. He will be replaced by Mariusz Błaszczak, who moves from interior ministry brief.
Macierewicz is probably best known in Poland as the most aggressive proponent of the claim that the 2010 Smolensk air disaster in western Russiaplane crash that killed the country’s then president, Lech Kaczyński, and scores of senior Polish officials, was a Russian plot in collusion with PiS’s domestic political opponents. He regularly topped surveys of ministers Poles most wanted to see dismissed.
My report for the Guardian can be found here.