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Poland to approve budget on Wednesday, PiS MP dismisses election talk

Poland to approve budget on Wednesday, PiS MP dismisses election talk
Members of the Lower House of the Parliament are seen after voting about Supreme Court bill at the Parliament hall in Warsaw, Poland, July 20, 2018. Agencja Gazeta/Kuba Atys via REUTERS   -   Copyright  AGENCJA GAZETA(Reuters)
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WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s parliament will approve its 2019 state budget on Wednesday, the head of the finance panel told Reuters, which observers said would reduce the chances of an early election.

Political sources have suggested the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which dominates parliament, might not approve the budget in order to trigger an election in March. National elections are due in the autumn, but moving them earlier could give PiS a better chance of winning.

“Today we have a sitting of the finance panel that is to discuss 100 amendments to the budget and tomorrow … voting on the budget in the lower house of parliament is planned,” Janusz Szewczak, who is also a PiS MP, told Reuters on Tuesday.

He dismissed talk of an early election.

Parliament must pass the budget by the end of January. If it does not, the president, who is a PiS ally, could call an early election.

Some opposition politicians have said that PiS might seek to call a national election ahead of European elections in May that it fears may galvanise voters opposed to the nationalist ruling party, especially in urban areas. A good result for the opposition in European polls would also give it more control over the political narrative in Poland ahead of the election.

PiS has faced EU criticism over reforms to the rule of law that opponents say tilt towards authoritarianism but has recently softened its tone towards the EU, which a recent Eurostat poll showed 70 percent of Poles want to remain part of.

An opinion poll published on Sunday by Polish tabloid Super Express showed PiS would win 37 percent of the vote if national elections were held now, well ahead of the opposition.

The fatal stabbing of the staunchly anti-PiS mayor of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz, at the weekend may engage more young voters in politics, however, a senior opposition source said.

That could boost more liberal parties.

“I think that my generation will become active now, it is visible in social media — everyone reacts, supports each other,” a 20-year-old student Beata Dawidowicz told Reuters on Monday at a commemoration of Adamowicz’s death in Gdansk.

“The political scene will change a lot. My colleagues, who have different views on politics, my whole generation, agrees that this (stabbing) is unacceptable,” she said.

Poland’s former Prime Minister Marek Belka told private Radio Zet that chances for early elections have fallen significantly in these circumstances.

“There was a lot of talk about early general elections. What happened on Sunday takes this issue off the table. You can’t conduct an election campaign in such an atmosphere,” he said.

(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; additional reporting by in GDANSK Pawel Goraj and Malgorzata Wojtunik, Editing by Joanna Plucinska and Catherine Evans)

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