Polish coalition government dismantled as elections loom

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski on Monday signalled the formal end of his twin brother’s shaky coalition by firing four ministers from two junior parties and replacing them with ruling party loyalists.

In a televised ceremony, Kaczynski appointed replacements from within the conservative camp steered by his brother, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Monday’s move marked a key penultimate step towards snap elections, which the Kaczynskis and Poland’s liberal opposition have agreed are likely to take place on October 21st, two years earlier than the official deadline of 2009.

“The work of the coalition has come to an end,” Kaczynski said in a statement.

Three other ministers from the League of Polish Families (LPR) and Self-Defence (Samoobrona) were also sacked as a last step in the disbandment of the governing coalition.

Now PiS control only 150 seats in the parliament’s lower house out of a total of 460.

Prime Minister’s Kaczynski’s government is left without any support from the parliament and will have to deal with the current situation until October.

According to the latest opinion poll conducted among Polish voters, the largest opposition party Civic Platform (PO) is in pole position to win the elections, but it will not be able to win an outright majority.

Therefore Poland could end up being ruled by another coalition or a minority government.

The highest-profile official to lose his job on Monday was deputy premier and education minister Roman Giertych, leader of the ultra-Catholic LPR, who was replaced by independent conservative Ryszard Legutko, a well-known political philosopher.

The newly appointed education minister is openly homophobic, and will do little to improve a country already rife with gay hate crime.

In a recent essay in the daily publication Rzeczpospolita, Legutko called scholars of LGBT studies “parasites.'”

Critics accused him of reverting to Stalinist terminology, when political enemies were routinely accused of social parasitism.

In his essay Legutko referred to gays as “people of a disturbed sphere of sexual desire” and mocked LGBT studies.

“There is a mania of looking for homosexual subtexts in many creators of culture,” he wrote.

“No small legion of university parasites tries to make careers on such research.”

Poland is one of the most openly homophobic countries in Europe.

In March this year, at Polish Ministry of Education press conference junior minister Miroslaw Orzechowski that new laws will, “punish whomever promotes homosexuality or any other deviance of a sexual nature in educational establishments.”

He also said that teachers who reveal themselves to be gay, lesbian or bisexual would be sacked.

On a state visit to Ireland at the beginning of this year President Lech Kaczynski said that the promotion of homosexuality would lead to the eventual destruction of the human race, while his twin brother Prime Minister Jaroslaw has also been known to make homophobic remarks during his political career.

As the then Mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski banned the city’s gay pride parade in 2004.

He also banned the event in 2005 while allowing a homophobic counter-demonstration, the “Parade of Normality.”

In August 2006, when quizzed by the EU over his gay rights record, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said he was not a homophobe.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting in Brussels with EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Jaroslaw Kaczynski said: “Please do not believe in the myth of anti-Semitic, homophobic and xenophobic Poland this is a media thing – it is not real.”

The breakup of the coalition will put on hold the homophobic legislation proposed by the Kaczynski government.