Poland gets surprise new PM

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Poland gets surprise new PM

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  • Poland gets a new prime minister
  • Mateusz Morawiecki replaces the popular Beata Szydlo
  • No dramatic changes in policy expected
  • More changes anticipated

Poland's Finance Minister has been promoted to Prime Minister.

Mateusz Morawiecki will replace the popular Beata Szydlo

It is the midpoint of the parliamentary term and thought to be the beginning of an anticipated broader government reshuffle.

A popular government

Despite the criticism from abroad, Szydlo's eurosceptic government, in power for two years, was one of the most popular in Poland since the 1989 collapse of communism.

Analysts put this down to the 1989 collapse of communism, largely due to low unemployment, increases in public spending and a focus on traditional Catholic values in public life.

Sources told journalists earlier this week that 49-year-old Morawiecki was the most likely candidate to replace Szydlo to prepare the party for elections, due in the next three years.

Local elections will be held in 2018, parliamentary in 2019 and presidential in 2020.

Will this mean big changes in terms of policy direction?

Experts think not. Dramatic changes in Poland's economic policy are not expected. Observers are saying Morawiecki will keep strict control over Poland's finances and economy.

Local market reaction has been muted this week amid speculatin about his new role.

It remains to be seen whether Poland changes its relations with Brussels.

The country is now at loggerheads with the EU over sweeping changes to state institutions, which critics say have subverted democracy and the rule of law.

The context

Szydlo and Morawiecki have fought for months for control over the largest state-owned companies. The conlict became public this year during the election process for the chief executive of PZU, central Europe's biggest insurance company.

Analysts say that, although talk of the government reshuffle has been going on for weeks, the replacement of Szydlo, a loyal party member who made few mistakes, is suprising.

Are any more changes planned?

Possibly. Three separate sources have told the Reuters news agency that Foreign Minister Witold Waszczkowski may be replaced with Krzysztof Szczerski, a top adviser to President Andrej Duda, who reportedly wants to have a greater say on Poland's foreign policy.

The parliament is to vote on a new government at its next session on Tuesday and any ministerial changes are expected to be announced after that.

What they are saying

"The last two years - it was an extraordinary time for me and the service to Poland and Poles was an honour," Sydlo said on Twitter.

"It is obvious that Jaroslaw Kacznyski is the leader of this camp and he is the one who distributes the cards, regardless of who is prime minister," - Henry Domanski from the Polish Academy of Sciences.