Official: Poland’s Kaczynski likely to join govt amid crisis

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Jaroslaw Kaczynski

FILE – In this July 10, 2020 file photo, Poland’s ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, left, attends a police-guarded ceremony in Warsaw, Poland. An official with Poland’s conservative governing party said Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, that the the country’s right-wing coalition government has collapsed. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, file)

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A top member of Poland’s conservative ruling party says party leader Jarosław Kaczyński is likely to formally join the coalition government in order to end a power struggle among its members.

Ryszard Terlecki, the Law and Justice leader in parliament, told TVN24 that all signs point to Kaczyński joining as a deputy prime minister with the mandate that would include supervising the Justice Ministry.

The development comes as Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, a hard-liner behind many of the government’s most controversial steps over the past five years, has been seeking to strengthen his power.

Terlecki spoke Thursday after the state news agency, PAP, reported that Kaczyński would join Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s Cabinent as head of a security committee that would supervise the ministries of justice, defense and internal affairs. That reported cited an anonymous source familiar with ongoing talks.

Kaczyński, 71, served as prime minister from 2006 to 2007. However, since his party assumed power for the second time in 2015, he has guided government decisions and appointments from behind the scenes. He is now merely one of 460 members of the lower house of parliament, a status that critics say has given him enormous power but no true accountability.

Poland’s government has been in a crisis since a small party led by Ziobro refused to back an animal rights bill proposed by Kaczyński in a parliamentary vote last week. The actual bill was not seen as the true trigger of the crisis, but just the manifestation of tensions that have been building for some time.

Polish political commentators say there’s a power struggle between Ziobro, 50, and Morawiecki, 52, for eventual control of Poland’s political right as the Kaczyński era comes to an end.

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