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Polish finance minister chosen as new PM as Szydlo resigns

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Poland - Factors to Watch Dec 7

Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski is widely seen as the real power behind the government, and it's not clear if Morawiecki will seek to set an independent course or if he would also largely follow the direction Kaczynski sets, as Szydlo did.

Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo resigned late Thursday and will be replaced by the finance minister, according to a statement from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Commentators have said that the planned change of prime minister reflects the government's determination to focus on the economy over the next two years. "So far we have concentrated on political, legislative and system matters".

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

According to a political analyst quoted in the Reuters report, Szydlo's ouster could have come about because the Law and Justice Party's leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, may have felt Szydlo was "too weak and that the government was seeded by internal conflicts and factional struggles". The government wants to preserve and perhaps accelerate the trend because it needs funds to support its popular policy of giving money to families with more than one child. Poland now enjoys record low unemployment of around 7 percent, growing wages and growth of over 4 percent per year.

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

However, some supporters of the ruling party say it would be wrong to unseat Szydlo, given her appeal to conservatives and the party's popularity. Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Dziedziczak suggested Szydlo will be the deputy prime minister, a post Morawiecki held in her government.

Before the meeting with President Andrzej Duda, Szydlo addressed lawmakers and said her government represented the interests of ordinary Poles well. The motion is expected to fail.

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.

Government critics saw the leadership change as mostly a smoke screen to divert attention from a Friday vote on laws that would give the ruling party significant power over Poland's judicial system.

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