WARSAW — Poland’s three largest opposition parties on Tuesday said they were ready to build a coalition to replace the incumbent Law and Justice (PiS) party and asked President Andrzej Duda to allow them to form a government.
“Today, together with the leaders of the democratic parties, we confirmed our readiness to fully cooperate and form a new majority in the future parliament,” Donald Tusk, the leader of Civic Coalition, the largest opposition party, and a former Polish prime minister and European Council president, told reporters.
His grouping, together with the center-right Third Way and the Left, has 248 seats in the 460-member lower house of parliament.
The October 15 election saw PiS come in as the largest party, taking 194 seats, but it is unlikely to be able to find partners to bring it to the needed parliamentary majority of 231.
Duda has said that presidents traditionally have chosen the largest party to have the first try at forming a new government; Tuesday’s opposition meeting is an effort to short-circuit that by underlining that only they have the votes needed to govern.
If Duda allows PiS a first try, it would be mid-December before an opposition-led coalition would be able to take power.
The president begins meetings with political parties later on Tuesday.
“We form a majority in parliament,” Tusk said. “With this information I will be able today, my colleagues tomorrow, to go to President Duda and reassure the president, and make his task easier, I think, in terms of the next constitutional steps. We are ready to form a government.”
The other leaders also underlined that they want Duda to move fast, and that they are solidly behind Tusk as the new government leader.
“We appeal to President Duda not to waste a second of our time,” said Szymon Hołownia, leader of Poland 2050, one of the two parties making up the Third Way.
Duda’s first meeting on Tuesday afternoon will be with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on behalf of Law and Justice, followed by a meeting with Tusk. Smaller parties are meeting the president on Wednesday.
Duda, a staunch ally of PiS, has avoided making it clear who he will nominate as the next PM.
The opposition leaders also called on Duda to convene the inaugural session of the new parliament “as soon as possible.”
In line with the Polish constitution, the president has 30 days after the election to convene the new parliament. After that, the head of state has 14 days to nominate a PM candidate, who, in turn, has another 14 days to present his cabinet to the parliament for a confidence vote.
That could give PiS almost two months before parliament takes over the government formation process.
“Mr. President, let me tell you: the maneuvering is over. There is a majority in the parliament that will form a government,” said the Left’s leader, Włodzimierz Czarzasty.
Marcin Przydacz, a presidential minister, told the media that the declaration from opposition leaders “is a certain indicator as to the future of the parliamentary puzzle” but stressed that will have to be tested in a vote once the new parliament is in session.
He added that under the Polish constitution, “there is no question here in any way of designating based on appeals, expectations from one political option or another … it is the president who designates the prime minister.”