Polish government survives vote of confidence

 

The Associated Press

Poland's center-right government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk survived a confidence vote on Friday that was called by the opposition over leaks of embarrassing conversations by some leaders.

The vote went 236-155 in the government's favor in the Sejm, or lower house of parliament. The result is a setback for Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the nationalist Law and Justice party, who called for the vote. Kaczynski accuses Tusk of dragging Poland into a political crisis and of general incompetence in guiding the country of 38 million.

Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz survived a separate confidence vote also called by the opposition.

The government turmoil was sparked last month when a weekly magazine, Wprost, released secretly recorded conversations of top leaders. In one, National Bank of Poland president Marek Belka and Sienkiewicz are heard discussing how the central bank could help the governing party win re-election in 2015, a seeming violation of the bank's independence.

In another, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski was heard saying that Poland's alliance with the U.S. is worthless. It was a sentiment expressed before the crisis in Ukraine prompted President Barack Obama to promise to do more to bolster Poland's security. President Bronislaw Komorowski reacted to that leak by stressing the importance of the alliance.

Soon after the scandal broke the government looked fragile, and even Tusk said early elections might be the only way out. But he has since survived two confidence votes in a little over two weeks. Tusk requested the earlier vote to strengthen his position during talks at the European Union.

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