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Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Saturday he would veto the government’s amended 2024 spending bill and propose his own, in a challenge to new Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
In a post on the social media platform X, Duda cited the bill’s funding of public media, and said blocking it was appropriate “in view of the flagrant violation of the constitution.”
On Wednesday, Poland’s new government moved to seize control of the country’s publicly owned television, radio and news agency from loyalists to the Law and Justice (PiS) party, which lost power following the October 15 parliamentary election. Duda was a PiS member and is still loyal to the party.
Poland’s Culture Minister Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz fired the heads of TVP public television, Polish Radio, and the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
“At the same time,” Duda wrote in a second post on X. “I would like to inform you that after Christmas, I will immediately submit my own project to the parliament, regarding, among other things, raises for teachers and other expenses planned in the budget-related act.”
Jan Grabiec, the head of the prime minister’s chancellery, called Duda’s announcement “absurd.”
“The president doesn’t have much say. The president says he will submit some kind of a budget bill, and that is completely out of the president’s remit,” he said.
Duda had come under fire from PiS politicians for not doing more to thwart the government’s effort to take control of public media — which in the past eight years had acted as the PiS party’s propaganda arm.
Tusk’s government came to power in December, putting an end to eight years of rule by PiS, in which Warsaw clashed with Brussels on the rule of law and press freedom.
However, the relationship between the new government and the president, who retains the ability to veto legislation, has been rocky, with Duda making clear he will use his presidential powers to thwart the new administration.
The clash over public media and the budget is part of a broader battle as the Tusk government tries to cut PiS off from its sources of political power and cash.
In recent days, parliament has created special commissions that will probe past wrongdoing, such as dodgy COVID-era contracts and spending to hold a 2020 election by postal ballot which hadn’t been authorized by parliament. On Tuesday, Tusk appointed new heads for the main intelligence and security agencies, which had been accused of supporting PiS and of spying on the party’s opponents.
“Fasten your seatbelts,” Tusk announced on Tuesday.