Warsaw (dpa) – Surprising turn of tug-of-war over the vote on a controversial broadcasting law in Poland: Parliament in Warsaw resumes sitting.
Earlier, the opposition postponed the vote by 229 to 227 on Wednesday evening. But parliament speaker Elzbieta Witek of the national conservative ruling party PiS had the vote repeated – because she had not given a date for postponing the meeting. This time, 229 parliamentarians spoke out against postponing the plenary session.
The House of Representatives will probably discuss the amendment to the Broadcasting Act late on Wednesday evening. In the dispute over the law change, the government alliance of the PiS had previously collapsed. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had fired his deputy Jaroslaw Gowin, whose group Porozumenie (Understanding) ended cooperation with the PiS.
From now on they want to act as an independent faction, spokesman Jan Strzezek said on Twitter. Five deputy ministers from Gowin’s camp volunteered. Porozumenie has so far formed the “United Rights” list alliance with the PiS and another minor party, supplying 12 of the 232 members of the government camp.
The official reason for the 59-year-old Gowin’s resignation was that his group had not worked on reforming the PiS at a sufficient pace. Gowin had criticized massive tax hikes planned for a planned economic stimulus program.
The factual background, however, is the dispute about the amendment of the Broadcasting Act. The plans submitted by the PiS in July stipulate that broadcasting licenses can only be issued to foreigners if they “have their headquarters or residence in the European Economic Area”. In addition, the condition applies that the license holder may not be dependent on someone who has its head office or lives outside it.
According to critics, the law focuses on the private broadcaster TVN, which is part of the American group Discovery through a holding company registered in the Netherlands. The news channel TVN24 in particular takes a critical line about the PiS. Gowin had criticized the novella.
Despite the government crisis, the PiS wanted to hold the vote on the Broadcasting Act. Your spokesman Radoslaw Fogiel was optimistic in the morning that the necessary votes would be gathered for the novella. “When it comes to the majority in the Sejm, I am reassured.”
But it turned out differently. When the head of the Peasants’ Party, Wladyslaw Kosinak-Kamysz, proposed in parliament to postpone the session until September, a majority voted in favour, including several MPs from Gowin’s faction. There were tumultuous scenes in the venue, PiS boss Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his colleagues were visibly cheated in their seats.
The opposition, on the other hand, triumphed when the PiS succeeded in causing a failure. «The parliamentary majority, held together by a morass of corruption and blackmail, is falling apart before our very eyes. It may be a while, but it won’t be able to rule anymore,” the acting head of the largest opposition party, Donald Tusk, wrote on Twitter. But now the resumption of the debate.