When Prime Minister Donald Tusk emerged for a press conference last Monday, many observers were certain he would announce the dismissal of his justice minister, Jarosław Gowin. He didn’t. Instead, he announced that Mr Gowin would remain in his position despite the politicians’ public disagreement over the issue of civil unions.
Polish media had begun speculating on the fate of Mr Gowin after government spokesman Paweł Graś wrote on his Twitter account that on March 4 the prime minister would “make a decision regarding the presence of minister Gowin in the government.”
One leader too many?
Jarosław Gowin is often referred to as the leader of a strongly conservative faction in Civic Platform and is seen by many liberals as an obstacle to progressive reforms.
Commenting on the situation that had led to the conflict – specifically that Mr Gowin had publicly opposed a Civic Platform draft law aiming to sanction civil unions – the prime minister said that he thought the issue could be resolved in a manner that is in accordance with the Polish constitution.
This came after the justice minister had described Civic Platform’s original legislative proposal as unconstitutional. Mr Tusk said he has now asked the speakers of both houses of parliament to supervise work on a civil union draft law to make sure it remains in line with Poland’s constitution.
Why keep Gowin?
So why did the PM keep a minister who has publicly called into question his judgment?
“I think both politicians realize that now is not a good time for an internal war in Civic Platform and thus decided to take a step back,” said Sergiusz Trzeciak, a political marketing specialist.
“However, Jarosław Gowin must realize that Donald Tusk could hit him hard just before the next parliamentary elections [in 2015] by cutting out [Gowin’s] supporters from their party’s electoral list,” he added. That would leave Mr Gowin without an “army” in parliament.
Pre-emptive actions possible
Mr Trzeciak said that Mr Gowin could act before then by forming a tactical partnership with some disgruntled Civic Platform MPs in order to try and unseat Donald Tusk.
“People think because they dislike each other, Jarosław Gowin and [deputy Civic Platform leader] Grzegorz Schetyna can never team up, but in politics my enemy’s enemy is my friend,” he added.
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