What is behind Warsaw's cabinet reshuffle?

Just over a month after the appointment of Mateusz Morawiecki as new Polish prime minister the country's national populist ruling party the PiS has replaced people in other top government posts. Journalists suspect that Warsaw above all wants to improve its image and don't expect a true change of course.

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Newsweek Polska (PL) /

PiS's image is improving, its policies aren't

For the left-wing journalist Jakub Majmurek the dismissal of a few hardliners is a clever gambit on the part of the PiS. He writes in Newsweek:

“Everything Kaczyński wanted he has now got: the Constitutional Tribunal, the courts, the prosecution, the [state broadcaster] TVP. In these circumstances he must calm the situation, consolidate his grip on power and suspend less important battles. ... Nevertheless one shouldn't fool oneself and think that the new government will stop violating the constitution and misappropriating the state institutions. It will go on doing but with kid gloves, in a way that doesn't harm its reputation.”

Wpolityce.pl (PL) /

Kaczyński knows what he's doing

The pro-government news portal wPolityce.pl also has an explanation for why party leader Jarosław Kaczyński has dismissed five ministers, some of whom are highly respected by the PiS's core voters:

“The new political line is the result of new threats, among others the threat looming over Poland's reputation. According to the party chairman that reputation has been endangered by the coverage of incidents that occurred at the independence march, and the related false claim that Poland tolerates 'fascism'. ... And since the opposition is down for the count the leadership is free to reach out to new social groups and further expand its voter base. ... That's the PiS leader's preferred strategy: to achieve several goals at the same time.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Old wine in new bottles

The Süddeutsche Zeitung doesn't believe the Polish government has really changed its course:

“Poland's strong man Jarosław Kaczyński has simply had the heads of particularly unpopular ministers removed and strengthened his hold on the cabinet without himself entering the limelight or taking on the day-to-day business of governing he so dislikes. ... The government will go on seeking confrontation under its new nominal head Morawiecki. The attacks against the independence of the judiciary continue apace. And the prime minister didn't visit either Berlin or Paris on his first official visit, but Budapest. And Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. That shows that Warsaw is sticking to its guns in its conflict with Brussels. It is counting on Hungary using its veto to prevent the revocation of Poland's EU voting rights.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

Poland worried about its EU funds

The cabinet reshuffle is mainly aimed at appeasing the EU, Il Sole 24 Ore suspects:

“Before leaving for Brussels Prime Minister Morawiecki dismissed some of the anti-European ministers. Zbigniew Ziobro was confirmed, temporarily, as the head of the Justice Ministry. But precisely for that reason many observers are sceptical about the appointments. They could simply be a bid to buy time and conceal the true intentions of Jarosław Kaczyński, the controversial leader of Polish politics. ... In Brussels Morawiecki also tried to persuade EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker that his country respects the rules of democracy. ... Warsaw's biggest concern is the EU budget debate on the distribution of funds from 2021 on: Poland, which has received the most money in the last seven years, is facing drastic cutbacks.”

Den (UA) /

Good news for Ukraine

Ukrainian MP Oksana Yurynets examines the reshuffle at the foreign ministry. She explains that the comments of the current Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski regarding Ukraine were not acceptable and therefore welcomes his being replaced by Jacek Czaputowicz:

“International relations, we predict, are now in urgent need of new, positive impulses, particularly in the Ukraine-Poland context. The new boss of the Foreign Ministry is a career diplomat who isn't politicised and is noted for his pacifist position. It seems to me that we can expect absolutely correct diplomatic steps - the kind of objective and well-considered decisions that we need today.”