Polish cabinet crisis draws to a close

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The Independent Online
WARSAW (AP) - Parliament yesterday approved Hanna Suchocka as the first woman to head a Polish government, ending the nation's five-week cabinet crisis. By 233 votes to 61, with 113 abstentions, the Sejm, or lower chamber, approved Ms Suchocka as the fifth prime minister since the Communists lost power in 1989. Earlier, the chamber accepted the resignation of her predecessor, Waldemar Pawlak.

Ms Suchocka, a member of the Democratic Union party, the largest grouping in the fragmented parliament, leads a coalition of seven parties. President Lech Walesa said he hoped Ms Suchocka would be able to form 'an effective and stable government, enjoying a firm support of a parliamentary majority'.

Ms Suchocka, 46, a constitutional lawyer, has been respected by colleagues for keeping her distance from political conflicts, which allowed a broad range of parties to accept her candidacy. She won Mr Walesa's approval on Wednesday and has pledged to form a 'government of national agreement'.

Besides winning the support of her coalition, which can muster 220 votes in the 460-seat parliament, Ms Suchocka also won approval from various splinter parties, promising her cabinet a working majority. The largest opposition parties will be the former Communists, with 60 seats and the right-wing Confederation for an Independent Poland, with 49.

Mr Pawlak was unable to form a government after most parties refused to work with him on grounds that his party was aligned for many years with the Communists.

Stable government has eluded Poland since the nation's first post-war democratic parliamentary elections on 27 October, in which 29 parties entered the Sejm. The parties have been embroiled in quarrels over the pace and extent of economic reforms, the role of the president and how to purge remnants of Communism from public life.

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