Polish ruling party chief leaves government post

Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS), on Tuesday resigned from his post as deputy prime minister — but he’s still running the country.

“I am not in the government at the moment,” he told the Polish Press Agency. “I have already submitted the appeal to the prime minister and it has been approved. As far as I know, the president also signed it.”

Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak will replace Kaczyński as deputy prime minister.

The PiS chief was also the head of the government’s security committee. He said he is stepping down to focus on next year’s Polish parliamentary election. “We know more or less when we will have elections, in connection with which I had to make a choice, and I chose,” he said.

The right-wing United Right coalition led by PiS is trying for an unprecedented third term in office, after winning power in 2015.

Kaczyński is Poland’s de facto ruler, choosing ministers and setting government policy. From 2015 he served as an ordinary MP, running the business of state from his office in party headquarters in central Warsaw. He formally joined the cabinet in 2020 to minimize tensions among the parties making up the coalition, but had a low profile in the government.

He said he had planned to leave the cabinet four months ago, but stayed longer due to the war in Ukraine.

Kaczyński served as prime minister from 2006-2007 during a previous PiS government.