Law and Justice majority under threat after MP rebels

Lech Kołakowski, from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, announced his departure from PiS on Tuesday because of proposed amendments to an animal protection law. Leszek Szymański/PAP

The majority enjoyed by Poland’s governing party in the country’s lower house of parliament is under threat after one of its MPs announced he was leaving the party and that others might follow him.

Lech Kołakowski, from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, announced his departure from PiS on Tuesday because of proposed amendments to an animal protection law.

Kołakowski and 14 other MPs from PiS’s parliamentary club were suspended after they voted against the original amendment to an animal protection law, banning fur farming and limiting ritual slaughter

Describing the replacement amendment as a “legal dud” that he could not agree to, Kołakowski said others supported him and that there might be enough rebel MPs to form an independent parliamentary circle.

"There is a group of several people,” he said. “At the moment we are talking about the name of the circle, but decisions have already been made."

He continued, saying "if the circle is registered, PiS will probably lose its parliamentary majority."

Currently, PiS and its junior coalition members have 234 deputies in the 460-seat Sejm, giving them a majority of three. If more MPs join Kołakowski, then Law and Justice could find itself head of a minority government.

Given the danger of this Radoslaw Fogiel, deputy spokesman for PiS, called on any rebels to stay loyal.

"We are counting on the political wisdom of our party colleagues, even though their party membership is suspended," he said.

"It would be wrong to return to such inglorious traditions of the Polish right where, mainly for egotistical reasons, there were divisions which ultimately led to the inability of the right wing for many, many years to take power in Poland."

Asked whether the departure of Kołakowski and his followers could mean the loss of the PiS majority in the Sejm (lower house) and result in early elections, Fogiel replied that it was too early to discuss concrete scenarios.