Polish ruling party ousts PM


Poland's governing Law and Justice (PiS) party has named finance minister Mateusz Morawiecki to replace prime minister Beata Szydło, who tendered her resignation on Thursday as the administration gears up for a series of elections in the coming years.

Szydlo resigned during a meeting of the ruling Law and Justice party in Warsaw, party spokeswoman Beata Mazurek said.

Shifting challenges at home and overseas necessitated a change to "correct the composition of the government, including its leadership", the party said in the statement.

The future of Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo hung in the balance as top political leaders considered a government reshuffling that could see her replaced.

The changes in the government would need to be approved during a parliament session next week.

A Polish government official says the country's lawmakers will hold a confirmation vote next week to appoint Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki as the new prime minister. Approval is expected given the ruling party's majority in parliament.

While Szydlo's 2-year-old government is riding high in opinion polls, Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski is thought to be advocating a change.

Poland's economy achieved significant growth during the past two years. Still, the country's global image has suffered dramatically since Law and Justice assumed power, mostly over new laws that have eroded the independence of the judicial branch.

Morawiecki, a former global banker, is believed to be close to PiS's influential leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Szydlo, a coal miner's daughter and the mother of a priest, has wide support among conservatives. "These two years were an awesome time for me, and serving Poland and Poles an honor", she wrote.

Deputy Culture Minister Jaroslaw Sellin said the parliamentary vote to appoint Morawiecki as her successor has been set for Tuesday.

Opposition parties and the European Union (EU) have criticized the bills as anti-democratic and warned of the gradual erosion of the rule of law in the country.

President Andrzej Duda met with Szydlo and Kaczynski on Thursday to discuss plans for a government reshuffle and urged decisions to be made quickly, Duda spokesman Krzysztof Lapinski said.