Poland’s Kaczynski leaves govt post to focus on elections

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s most powerful politician, conservative ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, says he has given up his role as a deputy prime minister in the government in order to focus on the party and upcoming elections.

The move by Kaczynski, the head of Law and Justice, was expected. His government role focused on security issues and he said in an interview published Tuesday by the state news agency PAP that he had planned the move earlier but it was delayed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He said he was being succeeded in his role by Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak.

“This is a completely natural decision,” Kaczynski said, according to PAP. “We have a war and he is the defense minister, so in the particular situation in which we are, such a connection has very big advantages.”

Kaczynski is widely understood to be the most important politician in Poland, guiding government decisions and hand-picking those who serve in top positions, including Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. In 2015 he also tapped a presidential candidate who won and is now on his second term, Andrzej Duda.

The departure from the government of the 73-year-old Kaczynski is not expected to bring any major changes. Law and Justice has held power since 2015 and for most of that time Kaczynski did not formally hold a position in government.

He is a lawmaker in the lower house of parliament and guides the country from his party’s headquarters.

“I have already submitted a request for dismissal to the prime minister and it has been accepted. As far as I know, the president has also signed it,” Kaczynski said.

Poland is due to hold its next general elections to parliament by autumn 2023.

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