Poland Ruling Party Suspends Lawmakers in Vote-Buying Scandal

Poland’s ruling Civic Platform, which is struggling to stem falling popularity, suspended two lawmakers after allegations of vote-buying at a regional convention.

Norbert Wojnarowski and Michal Jaros, along with three local party officials, will be suspended for three months, according to a statement posted yesterday on Civic Platform’s website after leaders held an unscheduled meeting that ended shortly before midnight.

“We have to care about standards when it comes to what we have to offer Poles,” Andrzej Halicki, who leads Civic Platform in the Mazovia region, told broadcaster TVN24 today. “Our voters expect it and the internal discussion was finished yesterday. We’re still a team.”

Recordings posted yesterday on Newsweek Polska’s website showed two Platform lawmakers promising to help party officials in Lower Silesia find jobs at state-owned companies in return for backing Jacek Protasiewicz’s bid for that region’s party chairmanship. Protasiewicz unexpectedly unseated incumbent Grzegorz Schetyna by a 205-194 vote on Oct. 26.

Civic Platform, whose coalition has a two-seat majority in parliament, is trying to draw a line under the scandal as it lags behind the opposition in opinion polls. Poland could face early elections if the government is drawn into internal squabbles within the party, according to spokesman Pawel Gras.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who in 2011 became the first Polish premier to win re-election since the fall of communism, has promised a “new opening” for his government in late November, including changes in his cabinet.

The government has been on the defensive since proposing to cancel bonds held by private pension funds, a debt-cutting measure that’s angered urban voters who backed Tusk’s party in 2005, 2007 and 2011. Some deputies left the party in protest at planned pension overhaul, which still needs to win parliamentary support before the end of the year.