Polish President′s Twin Brother Becomes Prime Minister | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 10.07.2006
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Polish President's Twin Brother Becomes Prime Minister

The surprise announcement that the president's twin, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is to be sworn in Monday as prime minister has pushed down the value of the Polish currency and raised concerns over Poland's nationalist shift.

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The announcement spurred protests at the Law and Justice Party headquarters

Twin brothers will soon be at the reigns of the Polish government. Poland's conservative president Lech Kaczynski unexpectedly announced Friday that his twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski is to replace current Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz.

"We essentially have a government of nationalists and people with an utterly provincial view of things. This is more bad news after the recent negative developments in Poland," commented Lars Christensen, a Central Europe expert for Danske Bank.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, chairman of the right-wing Law and Justice Party ("Prawo i Sprawiedliwość"), said it was only "natural" for the leader of the governing party to become the prime minister. After the Law and Justice Party gained the majority in last September's elections, Kaczynski did not claim the highest government position, apparently so as not to hurt his brother's chances of becoming president.

Wahlen in Polen Jaroslaw Kaczynski

Jaroslaw Kaczynski is chairman of the conservative Law and Justice Party

In a "Gazeta Wyborcza" survey, 82 percent of the 1,000 Poles questioned considered Marcinkiewicz a good prime minister, making him one of Poland's most popular politicians in recent history. Only 21 percent of those surveyed thought Jaroslaw Kaczynski would do a good job as prime minister.

Marcinkiewicz is said to have become too popular for the Kaczynski brothers' taste.

A new minister of finance

Jaroslaw is to be sworn into office Monday, but has already begun his term by reforming the cabinet. Sunday evening he announced that Vice-Minister of Finance Stanislaw Kluza would become the new finance minister.

Kluza, previously the chief economist at the Polish bank BGZ, is to replace Pawel Wojciechowski, who has only been in office for two weeks. Wojciechowski had been appointed by Marcinkiewicz, then prime minister, after the former finance minister Zyta Gilowska was accused of working for the communist secret service.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski justified Wojciechowski's dismissal by saying that he had not been properly consulted concerning Gilowska's successor. Kluza is to continue the financial program set by Gilowska.

Financial reform

"The economy is in excellent shape. If we want to reform state finances, we should start today," 34-year-old Kluza said on Polish television. "We should also start reducing the budget deficit."

Grenzpfeiler Polen Deutschland

President Kaczynski and his convservative party favor national sovereignty above European integration

He said Sunday in an interview with Reuters that fiscal reforms and tighter budget policies would be his main priority.

Kluza also indicated that Poland is on track to meet criteria for accession to the euro zone by 2009 -- although the Kaczynskis are wary of exchanging national sovereignty for European economic integration.

Low confidence pulls down value of zloty

In light of the Kaczynski brothers' reputation for having a weak understanding of economics, the Polish currency, the zloty, dropped by 1.4 percent late on Friday and another 0.3 percent against the euro on Monday. However, local dealers said further losses would be limited.

Opposition party member Bronislaw Komorowski (Civic Platform) viewed the weekend's developments with foreboding: "I am afraid that with Jaroslaw Kaczynski as new prime minister, Poland will become more extreme, more anti-European and more xenophobic."

The Law and Justice Party defended the personnel adjustments Sunday by saying they were freeing Marcinkiewicz up to make the most of his current popularity to gain a foothold in the race for Warsaw mayor.

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