Polish minister wants talks to end ruling coalition crisis

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s justice minister called Monday for talks among the ruling coalition's parties to overcome a crisis after his junior party voted against government-backed legislation in parliament.

Polish media said talks would probably be held later this week.

The dissent by the United Poland party of Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro prompted the main coalition member, the right-wing nationalist Law and Justice party, to warn that the coalition that has ruled since 2015 was crumbling and that a minority government could be formed without Ziobro's party.

Law and Justice leaders met Monday to decide whether to shed both Ziobro's party and him as minister. At issue was also the future of the other small coalition partner, a party led by Jaroslaw Gowin, that also failed to fully back the new legislation.

Just before that meeting, Ziobro called a news conference and said the coalition of the United Right was worth preserving and he was ready for talks and compromise.

“We can surely make this world better in every meaning of the word, also in the area of this legislation," Ziobro said. “We need such compromise and such talks and we are open and ready for them.”

After the meeting, State TVP INFO and other media said they learned unofficially there would be a meeting between the party's powerful leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Ziobro. It did not say when.

The crisis began last week when Ziobro's party voted against a new animal protection law proposed by the Law and Justice party and strongly advocated by Kaczynski, who has cats. The party also said it would not back new legislation that gives immunity to state officials who disregarded the law while taking steps to counter the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislation would shield Ziobro's political arch-rival, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, from responsibility for controversial decisions taken while trying to organize a presidential election during the pandemic. Amid much chaos, the two-round election was postponed from May to June and July.

Without the 19 votes of Ziobro's party, the ruling coalition will lose its fragile majority in parliament, where it holds 235 out of 460 seats.

The crisis is part of a power struggle in the coalition that is now controlled by the 71-year-old Kaczynski.