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Poland: President gives PiS first shot at forming government

President Duda (right in photo) has ties to the PiS party but the election result meant it was unclear who he would ask to set up a government

President Duda (right in photo) has ties to the PiS party but the election result meant it was unclear who he would ask to set up a government

Polish President Andrzej Duda said in a televised address on Monday that he had asked outgoing Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of the ruling PiS party to try to form a new government after October's elections.

"After a calm analysis and consultations, I decided to entrust the mission of forming a government to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki," Duda, who was a PiS ally before becoming president, said in a televised address.

Duda's decision was welcomed by the Law and Justice (PiS) party's spokesman, Rafal Bochenek, who called the choice "a confirmation of the longstanding constitutional tradition of our country" in a post on social media.

PiS the largest party, but without a majority in parliament

Duda's decision could prove controversial, given that PiS lost its parliamentary majority in the vote.

Although it did emerge as the largest single party by some margin, it appears unlikely that Morawiecki will be able to win a parliamentary vote of confidence and become prime minister.

A broad alliance of several opposition parties and groups, led by former Prime Minister and former European Council President Donald Tusk, emerged from the vote with a slim parliamentary majority when combined.

PiS, even with smaller right-wing groups that might back it, would need the support of a handful of lawmakers from this opposition bloc to have any hope of actually forming a government.

It had not been immediately clear after the vote, given PiS' apparently poor prospects trying to form a government, whether the ruling party would want Duda to nominate it or not.

At first, the PiS leadership had used more vague language simply declaring itself the "winner" of the election — as it had far more votes than any other single party — but also lamenting its loss of control in parliament.

What if Morawiecki can't win the confidence vote?

If Morawiecki and PiS fail, it would then fall to lawmakers in parliament to pick a secondary candidate — quite probably Tusk. He would in turn then need to win a confidence vote in parliament to become prime minister and form a government.

Should that stage fail, President Duda could either pick one last person to try, or call new elections if an intractable deadlock emerges.

Addressing a rally shortly before Duda spoke, Tusk said that he would become prime minister in the end, whatever Duda decided on Monday.

"This game... unnecessarily exposes Polish interests to tangible losses, but I will tell you once again, it will not change anything," Tusk said.

The process could still take several weeks.

msh/jcg (AFP, dpa, Reuters)