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    Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Prime Minister Beata Szydlo during Congress 590 in Jesionka near Rzeszow, Poland November 16, 2017

    Polish Finance Minister to Take Over As Prime Minister After Szydlo's Shock Exit

    © REUTERS / Agencja Gazeta/Patryk Ogorzalek
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    In a surprise move, Poland's popular Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has resigned; the ruling Law and Justice party has already proposed Finance and Economic Minister Mateusz Morawiecki as her replacement, in a move thought to be aimed at placating critics of Warsaw in the EU.

    In a surprise move, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo resigned her position on Thursday. It is thought the reshuffle was instigated by the leader of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), Jaroslaw Kaczynski, ahead of a series of elections over the coming years, beginning with local elections in 2018.

    In a statement on Thursday, the PiS leadership announced its nomination of current Minister of Economic Development and Finance Mateusz Morawiecki as her successor, and assured party supporters that Szydlo will continue to play a significant role in party politics.

    A Twitter poll asked respondents whether they thought making Mateusz Morawiecki the prime minister was a good idea. The majority of respondents, 79%, disagreed with the decision, 9% agreed and 12% said they didn't know. 

    ​On Twitter, there were many comments in support of Szydlo, who is a popular figure among the conservative grassroots. She survived a vote of no-confidence brought by the opposition in the Polish parliament on Thursday, only to tender her resignation the same evening. 

    ​Right-wing publicist Piotr Semka declared that "the right-wing electorate WANTS Beata Szydlo at the head of the government and DOES NOT WANT Mateusz Morawiecki as premier. Is that so hard to understand?"

    ​"I bow before Mrs. Beata Szydlo. She wasn't my favorite, but she has class and is a strong person. All the best," one popular Twitter post read.

    In Germany, the move was interpreted as an attempt to improve the image of the Polish government among its Western partners. 

    "It will likely be easier for Mateusz Morawiecki to find a common language with Western politicians. The 49-year-old was a successful CEO of one Poland's largest banks. He was adviser to the current EU Council President Donald Tusk and, unlike other PiS politicians, prefers to talk about investment rather than history," the German national news outlet Deutschlandradio reported.

    Although the PiS government enjoys popularity at home, EU officials have criticized several of Warsaw's policies since PiS took power two years ago, for example efforts to restructure the court system and the refusal to take in refugees under an EU quota system.

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    Tags:
    EU, Polish Law and Justice Political Party (PiS), Mateusz Morawiecki, Beata Szydlo, Donald Tusk, Poland
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