Polish parties agree to coalition
WARSAW, Poland -- Poland's ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the smaller Polish Peasants' Party have agreed to form a coalition government.
The deal was signed on Tuesday, ending negotiations begun after the SLD ousted the right-wing Solidarity government in elections last month.
Prime Minister-elect Leszek Miller of the SLD told a news conference: "The government coalition has been formally created. The new government faces many difficult tasks."
The agreement obliges the two parties, which governed between 1993 and 1997 in an often-uneasy coalition, to take action to ward off a looming financial crisis and revive stalled European Union membership talks.
Miller, who will announce his Cabinet on Wednesday, said the coalition deal aimed to boost exports, improve access to education and fight poverty in unemployment-stricken regions.
The SLD ousted the ruling Solidarity bloc from Parliament on a wave of discontent with sluggish economic growth, mounting unemployment and unfulfilled reforms.
The pro-EU SLD was forced to seek a coalition partner after the September 23 ballot gave it 216 votes in the 460-seat parliament, 15 short of a majority.
The more Eurosceptic Polish Pesants' Party (PSL) has 42 seats.
"I believe that a coalition government would be better. You avoid chasing down every single deputy to beg him or her to vote," Miller said immediately after the result.
Many analysts say the new government, due to take office after a confidence vote in Parliament on October 19, may be undermined by conflicts between the liberal-oriented SLD and the often populist-leaning PSL.
But international investors are confident that Finance Minister-designate Marek Belka, a respected economist, will carry out his austerity program aimed at preventing the ballooning budget deficit from sparking a financial crisis.
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