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Poland: Opposition parties sign deal for possible coalition

The leaders of the allied parties have signed an agreement that would be the foundation of a future coalition government

The leaders of the allied parties have signed an agreement that would be the foundation of a future coalition government

The alliance of pro-EU parties that, combined, outperformed Poland's ruling right-wing populist Law and Justice party (PiS) in last month's election signed an agreement on Friday, paving the way for a coalition government.

The opposition parties will still have to wait for their chance to put forward their coalition proposal for a vote in the Polish Parliament after President Andrzej Duda gave PiS Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki the first shot.

While PiS won the most votes, its time in power has alienated it from possible parliamentary allies, meaning its attempt to form a government is expected to fail.

Wide-ranging opposition comes together

The opposition coalition is made up of a wide range of parties, from the progressive New Left to the center-right PSL or the new Poland 2050, led by conservative Catholic Szymon Holownia who previously hosted a reality TV show.

The bloc would be headed by Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister and ex-president of the European Council. His party is the pro-European, centrist Civic Coalition.

"From today we are ready to take responsibility for our homeland," Tusk said, adding that the agreement would set out "signposts and recommendations for our work."

The newly elected lawmakers of the Senate and the Sejm — Poland's lower house — will meet for the first time on Monday. Morawiecki will then have two weeks to try and form a government, after which the Sejm will be able to put forward its own candidate.

What did the coalition agree on?

It still remains to be seen how well the coalition sticks together. Friday's agreement said that the near-total ban on abortion introduced by PiS would be overturned — although the issue is contentious in the traditionally Catholic country.

The alliance also agreed to restore transparency to public finances and depoliticize state-owned companies. This follows years of policies that have undermined Poland's judicial system and brought the country into conflict with the EU.

"Everything cannot be reduced to one denominator," said Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz, leader of the PSL, which contested the election as part of a coalition called Third Way.

"In our agreement, we found a common denominator for the issues we want to implement. They concern: support for families, employees, entrepreneurs, the Polish countryside, education, health care and women's rights."

According to the agreement, Kosiniak-Kamysz and New Left's Krzystof Gawkowski would serve as deputy prime ministers.

ab/nm (Reuters, AP)