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Cablegate: Polish Premier Weighs Joining New Party, Predicts

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) In an interview published March 2, Polish Prime
Minister Marek Belka signaled that he is considering an offer
to join a new, centrist political party (the "Democratic
Party," or PD) being formed by the liberal Freedom Union
(UW), disaffected politicians from the governing SLD, and
other centrists. Belka suggested that he is leaning toward
such a decision, which he allowed would add to a "domino
effect" already underway that could alter Poland's political
landscape in advance of upcoming parliamentary and
presidential elections. Belka reiterated his determination
to hold parliamentary elections in June, in defiance of his
(nominal) party's leadership, whom he characterized as
pursuing a strategy of "waiting for death." Belka indicated
that he would prefer to avoid forcing early elections through
resignation (with no majority support in parliament for him
or any other potential PM candidate, Belka's resignation
would set in motion futile rounds of voting that would
ultimately trigger new elections), although this is clearly
an option should the parliament not agree to dissolve itself
at a scheduled May 5 vote.

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2. (SBU) Belka stated that he will give himself six weeks to
make a decision (precisely the time PD founders have allowed
themselves to launch their new party), but already pressure
is building on him to clarify his position, with SLD leader
Jozef Oleksy insisting publicly on a clear "yes" or "no" from
the prime minister. Belka is widely expected to address his
plans at a speaking event March 3 (his spokesman announced
that Belka will make "an important political announcement" at
that forum), but the prime minister remains
characteristically cautious, and he is not likely to make any
definitive pronouncements before he feels he needs to do so.
With others in the SLD poised to break ranks as well (Belka
all but predicted that Parliamentary Speaker Wlodzimierz
Cimoszewicz will form yet another leftist formation, perhaps
in collaboration with the SLD-breakaway SdPl) and SLD members
determined to hang on to their seats for as long as possible,
the SLD may not wish to press the issue if Belka decides to
bide his time.

3. (SBU) Comment: Belka will almost certainly leave the SLD,
and, with his implied threat of resignation, prospects for
June parliamentary elections are now much stronger. What
remains less certain is the eventual appeal (or even
feasibility) of a union of liberals and disgruntled social
democrats, to what degree Belka will associate himself with
that party, and how these new formations (e.g., the PD, a new
leftist group, and possibly even a new, far-right Catholic
party) will affect the outcome of parliamentary elections, if
significantly at all. From Belka's perspective,
disassociating himself from the SLD and keeping his options
open make good political sense, particularly if -- as is
assumed -- he harbors presidential ambitions.

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