Polish PM wins confidence vote over tapes scandal

Recordings feature minister calling David Cameron’s European policy ‘incompetent’

Polish prime minister Donald Tusk yesterday won a vote of confidence in parliament, facing down for now at least opponents who say he should quit over leaked conversations between senior officials that embarrassed the government.

In a late night vote that was called on Mr Tusk’s own initiative, 237 members of parliament voted to express confidence in the government, more than the 231 votes that Mr Tusk needed to stay in power.

On paper, the result was not in doubt because Mr Tusk’s Civic Platform party (PO), combined with his junior coalition partner the Polish Peasants Party (PSL), had enough seats to win the vote. But proposing the vote of confidence appeared to be a tactic by Mr Tusk to demonstrate that despite the leaked recordings his coalition was solid, and reminding the opposition they do not have enough votes to unseat his government.

“The risk of government change can re-emerge during the next two months, but for now it seems the ruling coalition managed to push it into the freezer,” said Grzegorz Ogonek, economist with ING Bank Slaski.


The Polish premier will go to Brussels today to attend the two-day European Council meeting at which he hopes to secure more say in the new EU structures.

The secret recordings were made over several months at locations including high-end Warsaw restaurants. In tapes made public so far, central bank governor Marek Belka and interior minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz were recorded discussing the removal of another minister and ways to put pressure on a private businessman. Mr Belka and Mr Sienkiewicz have said their words were taken out of context and they deny doing anything illegal.

In another recording, Poland's foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski strongly criticised the Polish-US alliance and said British prime minister David Cameron's policy on Europe was either reckless or incompetent.

Mr Tusk said he believed a criminal group was behind the recordings and linked them to Poland's role over Ukraine, where it fiercely opposes Russian intervention, and to its growing weight inside the EU. – (Reuters)