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Poland's Peasants Party drops coalition talks amid vote-buying allegations

Poland's Peasants Party drops coalition talks amid vote-buying allegations

A small party broke off coalition talks with the government Wednesday, accusing the ruling conservatives of sleazy conduct and pushing Poland further toward the possibility of early elections.
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who planned to make a televised address Wednesday night, has been working to rebuild the majority his government lost when it severed ties with a coalition partner last week.
The Polish Peasants' Party complicated that effort Wednesday by abandoning talks on joining the government, saying footage aired Tuesday night showed that Kaczynski's Law and Justice Party was being unfair and corrupt in negotiating Cabinet posts.
The footage, broadcast by private TVN television station, showed a chief aide to the prime minister apparently offering a high government position and financial support to a lawmaker from former coalition partner Self-Defense in exchange for her joining Law and Justice.
Leaders of Law and Justice called the footage "a political provocation," and the aide, Adam Lipinski, said the taped exchange was part of normal political negotiation.
"This is an obvious and normal practice used by governments across the world," Lipinski said at a news conference. "This has nothing in common with political corruption."
The footage showed Lipinski asking Self-Defense's Renata Beger what she expected in return for crossing over to Law and Justice, and saying "the secretary of state post in the Agriculture Ministry, yes ... You know that is no problem, we have plenty of posts open."
The recording was made on TVN reporters' initiative and using two hidden TVN cameras, said Andrzej Morozowski, one of the journalists involved. He denied any political motivation.
The Peasants party condemned the taped meeting as vote-buying.
"There is absolutely no possibility of coalition talks now with Law and Justice after what happened last night," Peasant leader Jaroslaw Kalinowski told The Associated Press. "This is a clear case of corruption. The point now is to find a way out of this situation, and there is the prospect of early elections on the horizon."
Law and Justice vowed to push ahead with coalition talks with the Peasants party, parliamentary leader Marek Kuchcinski said.
Other leaders of the conservative, nationalist party said the footage was aimed at hurting its efforts to rid Poland's public life of sleaze and former communist apparatchiks in positions of power.
Poland's main opposition party, the pro-business Civic Platform, called for an immediate special parliamentary session to vote on whether to dissolve parliament and hold early elections. Parliament's next session is scheduled for Oct. 10, but its leaders are to meet Thursday to discuss strategy.
"This is the best political road to solve the growing problem connected with allegations of corruption carried out by the most important political representatives in the country," leading Civic Platform member Bronislaw Komorowski told a news conference.
"We would like to avoid a public reaction like in Budapest," he said. "We would prefer to look for a political solution."
Hungary's government is also under pressure, after a leaked audio recording was revealed Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany admitting to lawmakers that the government had failed to implement reforms and lied about the state of the economy before September elections.
The recording in Hungary triggered protests _ including two nights of rioting _ and calls for the prime minister to step down.
Poland's government lost its parliamentary majority on Friday, when Kaczynski dumped Self-Defense chief Andrzej Lepper from his government.
He immediately began searching for a new coalition partner, courting the Peasants, who are Self-Defense's traditional opponents, as well as several Civic Platform lawmakers and about a dozen independents.
Kaczynski's party failed to win a simple majority in September elections, and in May entered into a shaky alliance with Self-Defense and the small, right-wing League of Polish Families.
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Associated Press writer Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-10-29 05:54 GMT+08:00