Polish Government’s Majority Falls as Gowin Quits Civic Platform

Poland’s ex-Justice Minister Jaroslaw Gowin said he’s leaving the ruling party in protest at a planned pension revamp, trimming the government’s parliamentary majority to two seats.

“I got to the point where being loyal to the party stands in conflict with loyalty toward citizens,” Gowin told reporters today in parliament in Warsaw. The pension overhaul is “nothing more than nationalization of private savings” and may “lower the pensions of millions of Poles.”

The government is seeking to boost its popularity by spurring recovery in the European Union’s largest eastern economy, which official forecasts predict will grow this year at the weakest pace since at least 1997. To get more leeway to spend, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said last week that the state will take over and cancel government debt held by privately run pension funds and make future contributions “voluntary.”

Gowin is the second lawmaker in two months to leave Tusk’s Civic Platform as it trails in polls before 2015 elections. The party lost by-elections for the upper chamber of parliament in the south-eastern region of Podkarpacie to the opposition Law and Justice party yesterday.

Gowin’s decision will leave the ruling coalition, which includes the Polish Peasants’ Party, with 232 votes in the 460-seat lower house of parliament, including one suspended member of Civic Platform. The alliance relies on some independent deputies and members of the opposition Palikot Movement to push through legislation.

More Departures?

Gowin, who lost a Civic Platform leadership vote to Tusk last month, said more Civic Platform legislators “will follow” his example. He’ll stay on as an independent lawmaker and announce his future plans within a month.

“We continue to have a negligible mathematical majority and since Jaroslaw Gowin joins the group of independents, this stable majority should be ensured,” Andrzej Halicki, a Civic Platform lawmaker, told reporters today in parliament. “I don’t expect other defections.”

Tusk said Aug. 28 that he’ll consider early elections rather than wait until his term ends in the fourth quarter of 2015 if he loses his majority.

To contact the reporter on this story: Piotr Skolimowski in Warsaw at pskolimowski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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