Poland: As eavesdropping scandal shakes government, PM Tusk holds ground
June 3, 2014
On 25 June, Prime Minister Donald Tusk won a vote of confidence in the parliament, which allowed him to retain his position despite mounting pressure from the opposition and widespread calls for his resignation. Tusk had suggested the possibility of early presidential elections amid public outcry over the release of scandalous secret recordings involving top government officials. However, the result of the confidence vote did not come as a surprise as Tusk’s Civic Platform party (PO), in alliance with the Polish Peasants party (PSL), had enough seats to keep the ruling government in place.
The scandal erupted on 14 June when Wprost magazine published a series of secret recordings, one of which contained a conversation between Central Bank Governor Marek Belka and Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz from July 2013. In their discussion, Belka appeared to be willing to implement policies that would help the government drive economic growth ahead of the 2015 elections in exchange for the government replacing a top finance minister. On other tapes, the foreign minister belittles Poland’s ties with the United States, stating that the alliance is worthless and that it damages Poland’s standing in the eyes of other European countries. The scandal intensified when government security raided Wprost’s offices a week after the recordings were released. Each of the government officials involved denies any wrongdoing or unlawful behavior, yet the government’s reputation and the credibility of the Central Bank as an independent office have been damaged. The full political fallout and economic impact of the situation remains to be seen.
Author: Carl Kelly, Economist