Dismissal of Polish deputy PM raises prospect of early elections
( RIA Novosti ) - The dismissal of Andrzej Lepper, Polish deputy prime minister and agriculture minister, and the withdrawal of his populist party from the coalition has provoked a government crisis that could necessitate early elections.
At the request of his brother and Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Polish President Lech Kaczynski dismissed Lepper Monday night, government spokesman Jan Dziedziczak said.
Following the dismissal, Lepper's Self Defense party, whose parliamentary faction is ranked fourth for the number of MPs - 46 out of 460 - made a decision to leave the coalition. Self Defense holds second place in the Cabinet for the number of posts it holds.
"Self Defense is leaving the coalition following a decision by the party's board," said Krzysztof Sikora, acting chairman of the party's faction in the parliament.
Speaking live on TVN24 Lepper said: "The dismissal is an end to [the ruling government] coalition."
Poland's public television channel TVP1 said Lepper was dismissed following an investigation by the country's Central Anticorruption Bureau. The official's two aides were arrested.
The Self Defense party has been criticizing the government and insisting that the planned deployment of U.S. missile defense units be put to a referendum. Lepper also proposed considering the resumption of Polish meat exports to Russia bilaterally without any third parties. Kaczynski's government holds the opposite opinion of both problems.
Poland's opposition party SLD, the country's third for the number of seats in the parliament, has already called for dissolution. SLD leader Wojciech Olejniczak said his party would submit proposals Tuesday to dissolve the parliament and call snap elections in August or September.
The Web site of Poland's daily Wprost also said early parliamentary elections could be held in September.
The Polish president already dismissed Lepper in September 2006. After almost a month-long crisis Lepper was reappointed deputy prime minister and agriculture minister.