WARSAW (Reuters) – The arch-conservative United Poland party decided on Saturday to remain in government despite its opposition to a European Union budget deal, the party’s leader said, meaning the ruling coalition will keep its majority.
United Poland had called for a veto of the EU’s 2021-2027 budget and coronavirus recovery fund because of a clause linking cash with respect for the rule of law.
It said the clause threatened Poland’s sovereignty and would make funding dependent on the acceptance of liberal policies.
The eurosceptic party reacted with fury when Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, a member of the largest coalition partner Law and Justice (PiS), agreed a compromise during an EU leaders’ summit earlier this week.
But United Poland leader Zbigniew Ziobro, who is the country’s justice minister, told a news conference on Saturday that the party’s leadership had voted to stay in the coalition.
“The voting was secret, and by 12 votes of leadership members to eight the motion of one of our colleagues to leave the coalition was rejected,” Ziobro said, though he reiterated his party’s opposition to Morawiecki’s deal.
“We believe the prime minister’s decision was a mistake … we believe there are things you can’t measure in amounts of money,” he said.
Many religious conservatives in predominantly Roman Catholic Poland say the EU’s rule of law mechanism could be a first step to forcing the country to accept policies like gay marriage.
United Poland has drawn in hard-right voters opposed to LGBT rights and immigration.
Ziobro is the architect of judicial reforms which have brought Poland into conflict with the EU and which critics say aim to increase political control of the courts.
The coalition’s other partner, Accord, led by Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin, has a more centrist and pro-European approach. It backed the EU compromise.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Alicja Ptak and Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Mark Potter and Helen Popper)