Poland’s ruling party leader joins revamped government

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s president has formally sworn in a reshuffled government in which the leader of the main ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, becomes deputy prime minister, after years of forging the nation’s politics from outside the Cabinet.

Kaczynski, 71, will now be in charge of the justice, defense and interior sectors, supervising the work of these key ministers. Until now, he was formally only a regular lawmaker for his Law and Justice party although he was considered to wield considerable influence.

Observers say his main task will be to ease tensions between moderate Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and hard-line Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, which recently brought the right-wing coalition, in power since 2015, to the brink of collapse.

Ziobro, whose reform of the justice system has drawn European Union condemnation, is the head of a small coalition partner, United Poland.

The open-air swearing-in ceremony Tuesday was led by President Andrzej Duda in the gardens of the Presidential Palace. It had been planned for Monday at the palace but was postponed after the new education minister, Przemyslaw Czarnek, tested poistive for COVID-19. Czarnek was not present Tuesday and will be sworn in later.

The reshuffle trimmed the number of ministries to 14, from 20, in what leaders described as an effort to make it more efficient and to speed up the decision-making process. The coalition, which also includes another small party, Agreement, has three years left of its term.

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