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By in Europe on September 2, 2016
Europe • Insights
Poland changes its prime minister, but not its real leader
December 9, 2017

ON DECEMBER 6TH, Beata Szydlo, then Poland’s prime minister, was the special guest on Radio Maryja, an ultraconservative radio station that is close to the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party. Her appearance was overshadowed by something everyone had known for weeks: Mrs Szydlo was on her way out. By the following evening, she was thanking Poles for her two years in office. The party offered no explanation for Mrs Szydlo’s departure; indeed, the same morning, it had blocked an opposition motion to unseat her.

Mrs Szydlo’s fate, like her appointment in 2015, was determined by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, PiS’s reclusive party leader. (“I believe in his wisdom,” she told Radio Maryja’s television counterpart, TV Trwam, earlier this week.) In a telling sign of how Poland is now run, Mrs Szydlo first submitted her resignation on December 7th to PiS’s political committee, rather than to the country’s president, Andrzej Duda, who is formally responsible for nominating prime ministers. Only the following day did she ask for Mr Duda’s approval.

Despite earlier speculation, the 68-year-old Mr Kaczynski will not step in himself—as he did in 2006, during PiS’s first stint in power. Mrs Szydlo will be replaced by her deputy, the 49-year-old Mateusz Morawiecki, a former banker who heads the ministries of finance and economic development. In an earlier...Continue reading