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Poland’s ruling coalition collapses

Leading politicians of Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) party on Friday announced the collapse of the ruling coalition and the creation of a minority government after a political disagreement during a parliamentary vote on a bill beefing up animal protection, media including the Polish News Agency and Reuters report.

President of Poland Andrzej Duda (center) and Minister of Agriculture Jan Ardanowski (to his left, with beard) pictured during a harvest festival service at the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, Silesia on September 2, 2018. Ardanowski has been suspended from the ruling PiS party for breaking party discipline on a key vote. Photo by Grabowski Foto / Shutterstock.com

The bill, which has become a major test of unity for a coalition in power since 2015, passed in a late-night vote with support from opposition lawmakers. All lawmakers from the ultra-conservative United Poland party opposed the bill, and most lawmakers from a junior party Accord, the ruling camp’s more moderate wing, abstained.

According to news agency PAP, PiS also has suspended 15 lawmakers, including Agriculture Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski, who broke party discipline to vote against an animal rights bill.

The animal rights bill is popular with young Poles, and PiS hoped it will help expand its appeal in urban areas. Opponents within the coalition worry that it will alienate farmers and hurt them in the rural heartlands.

Poland produces millions of furs a year, and the sector employs about 50,000 people. The country is also one of Europe’s biggest exporters of halal and kosher meat.

PiS, allied with two smaller groupings in a United Right coalition, secured a second term in power in a parliamentary ballot on October 13. The three partners have recently been trying to hammer out a new coalition agreement and decide on the allocation of ministerial posts in a long-expected government reshuffle. Those talks have now been halted.

Meanwhile, Borys Budka, head of the Civic Platform, Poland’s biggest opposition party, said on Friday his grouping was starting “wide-ranging” talks in an attempt to put together a parliamentary majority, “as well as preparing for the possibility of early elections," Reuters and PAP quoted him as saying.