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Last Updated: Monday, 31 October 2005, 17:17 GMT
Poland gets conservative cabinet
Poland's Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz
Marcinkiewicz: Still open to negotiations on policy
A conservative minority government has taken office in Poland.

The cabinet is dominated by the traditionalist Law and Justice party (PiS), which won last month's elections pledging to defend Catholic values.

It had planned to rule together with the liberal Civic Platform, but coalition talks broke down last week.

Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz has eight non-party technocrats in his 17-member cabinet, which ends the rule of former communists.

The new foreign minister, Stefan Meller, is currently ambassador to Russia.

Poland's relations with Russia have been strained by a row over a new German-Russian gas pipeline bypassing Poland and by Poland's support for the Orange Revolution in Ukraine.

Oxford-educated Radek Sikorski, until recently a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, is the new defence minister. He backs close ties with the US.

Welfare champions

The BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw says the new cabinet will not pursue rapid market reforms, but will maintain state benefits for the poor.

Poland is plagued by marked regional inequalities and the highest unemployment in the European Union.

Prime Minister: Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz (PiS)
Interior: Ludwik Dorn (PiS)
Finance: Teresa Lubinska
Justice: Zbigniew Ziobro (PiS)
Foreign Affairs: Stefan Meller
Defence: Radek Sikorski (PiS)
Health: Zbigniew Religa
Intelligence: Zbigniew Wassermann (PiS)

In general, the new government will be more wary of Brussels and adopting the euro, our correspondent says.

The conservatives will keep Poland closely allied to the US and may even keep the Polish troop contingent in Iraq longer than expected.

Being a minority, the government will need ad hoc alliances to push its programme through, relying on support from far-right and populist parties at times, our correspondent adds.

It first has to win parliamentary approval in a vote on 10 November.

The sticking points with the Civic Platform were disagreements over power-sharing and economic policy.

The two parties came out top in September's elections, defeating the ruling left.

The Law and Justice party secured 155 seats in the 460-seat legislature, while the Civic Platform obtained 133.

The two parties, grounded in the pro-democracy Solidarity movement, secured many votes on a promise to rule together and root out corruption from government.

Q&A: Polish elections
23 Sep 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Poland
13 Jun 04 |  Country profiles

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