Poland Reshuffles Government as Country Heads for EU Elections

May 13, 2024
On May 10, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced four new Cabinet members who will replace the outgoing Ministers of Interior Affairs, Culture, State Assets and Economic Development chosen to stand as candidates in the upcoming EU Parliamentary elections.

· The ministers who submitted their resignations on May 10 include Marcin Kierwiński (Interior), Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz (Culture), Borys Budka (State Assets) and Krzysztof Hetman (Economic Development and Technology). Sienkiewicz, Kierwiński and Budka are standing as candidates for MEP for Tusk’s senior ruling Civic Coalition (KO) and Hetman for the centre-right Polish People’s Party (PSL), one of the two parties in the junior coalition partner Third Way bloc.

· The Interior Ministry will be led by ex-Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, a close confidant of PM Tusk and also a political veteran considered one of the most influential figures of the Civic Platform (PO), the driving force of Tusk’s Civic Coalition. He has already been in charge of overseeing Poland’s secret services, which he will continue alongside his new role.

· The new Culture Minister is Hanna Wróblewska, the former Deputy Director of the Warsaw Ghetto Museum. Since December, she has been Head of the Culture Ministry’s Department of National Cultural Institutions. By profession, she is an art curator without political experience.

· Incoming State Assets Minister Jakub Jaworowski is an economist who worked in Tusk’s chancellery in his previous cabinet. His main task will be to prepare the foreseeably long process of dissolving the Ministry and integrate its competencies into other existing structures in the government.

· The new Economic Development and Technology Minister is Krzysztof Paszyk, the Parliamentary Group Leader of the centrist-agrarian PSL. A lawyer by profession, Paszyk is a career politician and an influential figure within Third Way.

· In addition to the four ministers who will run in the upcoming EU elections, the Deputy Ministers responsible for Culture, Defence, Digitalization, Foreign Affairs and Justice will also leave the government. Their replacements will be decided by their respective ministers after their prospective parliamentary confirmation.


Despite some rumours, PM Tusk honored the coalition agreement of the ruling bloc and left the Ministry of Economic Development under the control of the junior coalition Third Way. This is the result of a previous meeting between the heads of KO and Third Way and Third Way’s decision to leak Paszyk’s name to the press before the official decision was signed by the PM. Also contrary to rumours, Czeslaw Siekierski, who has faced political pressure due to recent farmers’ protests in Poland, will stay on as Agriculture Minister. Going forward, Siekierski is expected to work on normalizing Polish-EU agricultural relations with regards to rising dissatisfaction among the rural communities. Notably, the government came as yet another (opposition-supported) farmers’ protest took place in Warsaw on May 10, following months of demonstrations against cheap Ukrainian grain imports and the agricultural obligations of the European Green Deal.

While influential cabinet member and KO figure Radoslaw Sikorski has stayed on as Foreign Minister, he is also rumoured to be aiming for a top EU job (potentially EU Defence Commissioner or High Representative for Foreign Affairs) after the upcoming EU elections. Some also speculate that Sikorski may be the KO’s candidate for the 2025 Presidential elections, however recently re-elected Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, who lost against incumbent PiS-allied President Andrzej Duda in 2020, remains a strong and likely candidate for this role.

This has been the first cabinet reshuffle since Tusk returned to power last December and will presumably not be the last, given the ideological and structural diversity of his ruling coalition. The focus of the ruling bloc will now entirely shift to the upcoming EU elections, in which the senior coalition KO hopes to overtake the lead opposition Law and Justice (PiS) as the country’s most popular party.

Latest polls suggest that Tusk’s KO and the national-conservative PiS are both polling at roughly around 30%. Aretera’s baseline scenario assumes that PiS, which narrowly beat KO in the country’s local elections on April 7 (in terms of the popular vote), will hold on to its slight lead over the senior coalition party. In addition to the two large electoral blocs of Polish politics and the junior coalition Third Way (which polls at 10% on average), two other formations will get into the EU parliament: the far-right opposition Confederation and the junior coalition Lewica (Left), with support for both parties standing at 8-9%, respectively.

Following the EU elections, the government’s focus is expected to shift towards preparations for Poland’s upcoming EU presidency (in the first half of 2025), with supporting war-torn Ukraine’s EU integration path likely to be among its key objectives. Heading into the parliamentary term, policy initiatives are also likely to receive more attention from the government, especially when it comes to the economy. The Polish PM is arguably credited for restoring his country’s troubled relationship with the EU and securing the first tranche of Poland’s long-stalled post-pandemic EU recovery funds, critics argue the early months of his Government have been a period in which politics has overshadowed policy. The cabinet has extensively focused on investigating alleged wrongdoings of PiS-era officials and sweeping away the remnants of the PiS era.

While cracks have already emerged between Poland’s ruling parties, particularly along handling ideological issues such as abortion, Aretera’s baseline scenario assumes that the multi-party coalition, united by an opposition to PiS, is largely unaffected by the government reshuffle and will remain stable, at least in the short term.

If you would like to schedule a discussion of this paper, please contact:
Pawel Sowa, Senior Advisor for Poland at P.Sowa@AreteraPA.com