Vox Opinion: Why Polish PM Ewa Kopacz forced snap dismissals in government?

On 10 May in a surprise move Polish PM Ewa Kopacz announced the dismissal of several key figures from her government. Three ministers will be sacked – Health Minister Bartosz Arłukowicz, Treasury Minister Włodzimierz Karpiński and Sports Minister Andrzej Bierna. Furthermore, three other officials were forced to resign – chief advisory to PM Kopacz Jacek Rostowski, head of the Special services Jacek Cichocki, and the Speaker of the Sejm lower parliamentary house, Radosław Sikorski. The formal reason for PM Kopacz’s decision was the link that those officials had with the wiretapping scandals of 2014 which shook public life in Poland.

Why now?

After losing the presidential election in May to the main opposition candidate, the ruling Civic Platform (PO) has been put on the defense. Polls have shown declining public support just 4 months before the general election in October.

Dismissing all these high-ranking officials, PM Ewa Kopacz attempts to kick-start the party ratings. The move is may be delayed but still shows some will to shrug-off belittered party members and revive the ranks. This way Kopacz removes a major possible line of “attack” from the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party’s election campaign.

The defeat in the presidential race showed that PO must take more active action rather than rely on its incumbent positions. Showing readiness to reform the party targets all potentially disappointed PO voters and aims to reinforce the party’s image as one that can change dynamically rather than root down itself in power.

It is not clear yet who will take over the vacant positions as it will be announced next week. However, it is very possible that PO may call for some new faces in view of the upcoming election. Voters seem to give in to new faces as proven by the successful election of Law and Justice’s Andrzej Duda for the Presidency in May.

The announcement from yesterday may signify the informal start of the election struggle.