Mateusz Jakub Morawiecki (API: / ‘matɛwʂ’ jakup mɔra’vʲɛt͡skʲi /), born June 20, 1968 in Wrocław, is a Polish banker and statesman, President of the Council of Ministers since December 11, 2017.
Son of a leader of a Solidarność organization and himself involved in the struggle against communism from a young age, he studied at the University of Wrocław and abroad. He then worked in the banking sector, being notably president of Bank Zachodni WBK. In this capacity, he advised Liberal Donald Tusk, then President of the Council of Ministers.
After the 2015 parliamentary elections, he was appointed Vice-President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Development in the Szydło government. The following year, he added the Ministry of Finance to his remit, and joined the ruling conservative party, Droit et justice (PiS). In 2017, he became President of the Council of Ministers, replacing Beata Szydło.
Birth and origins
Born on June 20, 1968 in Wrocław1, he is the son of Kornel Morawiecki, who founded in 1982, in Wrocław, Solidarność Walcząca (“Fighting Solidarity”), a secret anti-communist organization belonging to the Solidarność trade union. Elected MP for Kukiz’15 in 2015, Kornel Morawiecki was then appointed President of the Diet. He died on September 30, 2019, at the age of 78.
His family origins are Polish and Catholic, with a maternal grandfather born in the United States to a Czech family3. He confides that he has “two Jewish aunts” who escaped the Shoah, which may have led to confusion about his personal origins4: one is an aunt by marriage5 and the other a family friend.
He became involved very early on against communism1. In 1982, at the age of 14, he joined Solidarność. He resists against the Służba Bezpieczeństwa, the Communist political police, which persecutes his family1. The militiamen even made Mateusz Morawiecki dig his own grave in a forest.
In 1987, he became a member of the editorial team of the underground publication Biuletyn Dolnośląski, of which he was already a printer at the age of 12. He joined Niezależne Zrzeszenie Studentów, a student association which provided assistance to workers opposing the Communist regime by going on strike.
He participated in the launch, in 1989, of the political thought club Wolni i Solidarni1. In 1991, he was a co-founder of the newspaper Dni, as well as of the publishing company Reverentia.
Married to Iwona Morawiecka, he is the father of four children8. He is a practicing Catholic7.
Education and Training
In 1992, he graduated in history from the University of Wrocław1.
The following year, 1993, he studied business administration at Wrocław Polytechnic and at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain (USA) 1. In 1995, he graduated with an MBA from the Wrocław University of Economics1.
From 1995 to 1997, he studied Community Law and Economic Integration at the University of Hamburg (Germany) and European Studies at the University of Basel (Switzerland), where he obtained a Diploma in Advanced Studies. He does research in the field of macroeconomics at the University of Frankfurt am Main (Germany).
He began his professional career in 1992, at Cogito [What?] 10. The following year he helped found Enter Marketing-Publishing, a company based in Wrocław10.
From 1998 to 2015 he worked for the Polish bank Bank Zachodni WBK. Between 1998 and 2001, he was advisor to the chairman of the management committee, member of the management committee, then CEO of the bank10,1. From 2001 to 2007, he was a member of the bank’s board of directors, which he chaired from 2007 until his appointment to the government in 2015.
In 2010, he joined the Economic Council of the President of the Council of Ministers, Donald Tusk. It is a tipped time to become Minister of Finance in the government of this one.
Between 1998 and 2002 he was a dietitian advisor in the Lower Silesian Voivodeship1.
He is also [When?] Deputy Director of the Accession Negotiations Department in the Committee for European Integration and member of the group responsible for negotiating the conditions for Poland’s accession to the European Union, among others in the finance and banking.
Member of the Szydło government
On November 16, 2015, Mateusz Morawiecki was appointed Vice-President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Development in the conservative government of Beata Szydło. On September 28, 2016, he was also appointed Minister of Finance, succeeding Paweł Szałamacha.
Although he did not initially belong to any political party, he was admitted in March 2016 to the ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), by decision of the political committee15. At first badly perceived within the conservative party, he quickly became close to its president, Jarosław Kaczyński.
At the head of his large portfolio, he says he wants to reconcile a policy favorable to businesses and measures to fight poverty and regional disparities.
On the first part, it launches in particular the “Constitution Business”, an economic project supposed to facilitate the entry on the market of new entrepreneurs and to simplify the relations between companies and the administration. The text notably exempts entrepreneurs from social insurance contributions during the first six months following the creation of their business. Economic experts believe that this project makes the legislation more intelligible but that it should only too partially simplify the activity of Polish entrepreneurs16.
On the social side, it is implementing a “responsible development” strategy – called the “Morawiecki plan” – advocating the “end of neoliberalism” and a “fairer distribution of the fruits of growth” 13. In order to finance several measures promised by Droit et justice during the 2015 campaign (revaluation of family allowances, lowering of the retirement age, reimbursement of medicines for the elderly), it is stepping up the fight against tax fraud17.
A supporter of economic patriotism, Mateusz Morawiecki believes that there is too much foreign capital in Poland and proceeds to buy out strategic sectors.
At the end of the Szydło government, the unemployment rate was historically low (less than 7%) and the country was in a budget surplus17. According to Le Monde, he is “a moderate face, a reassuring technocrat for markets and foreign investors” 13. During 2017, he appeared in open conflict with the Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, and supported the President of the Republic, Andrzej Duda, when the latter vetoed two government laws reforming the judicial system.
President of the Council of Ministers
On December 7, 2017, Droit et justice appointed him as head of government to replace Beata Szydło, who resigned after having nevertheless escaped a motion of censure18. This choice is seen as a desire for appeasement on the part of the ruling party after two years of reforms during which Poland’s relations with the European institutions deteriorated13. The next day, President Andrzej Duda instructed him to form a new government.
Sworn in as president of the Polish Council of Ministers on December 11, he proposed the same day a government of 22 ministers, in which all ministers were reappointed – he kept the Ministry of Development and Finance – while Beata Szydło became vice-president of the Council of Ministers, responsible for Social Policy 20. The next day, the members of the Diet gave confidence to the government by 243 votes.
On January 9, 2018, he carried out a ministerial reshuffle involving key ministries. He himself thus cedes his finance portfolio to Teresa Czerwińska and the Ministry of Development to Jerzy Kwieciński. These changes, which lead to the departure of controversial ministers, are seen as a desire to improve relations with the European Union22.
On December 12, 2018, while the main opposition leader Grzegorz Schetyna tabled a motion of censure, Morawiecki got ahead of him by asking the question of confidence in the deputies. This is only the fifth time since 1989 that the government has called for such a vote. As for the four previous votes, this one confirms the executive, in this case with 231 votes in favor. During his speech, he justifies asking the question by the need to continue the reforms initiated and to confirm that he does indeed benefit from a mandate to govern the country in the run-up to the European Council.
In February 2018, the media reported on the payment of bonuses to members of the Szydło government when it resigned24. Faced with the controversy and the fall in popularity of PiS, Mateusz Morawiecki orders the payment of the premiums collected for charitable purposes and announces the end of this practice. Under pressure from Jarosław Kaczyński, the salary of parliamentarians is also reduced by 20% while the heads of public enterprises also see their remuneration reduced.
Economic and social measures
In his policy speech, Mateusz Morawiecki announces that his government will focus its work on economic development and helping the most disadvantaged.
It is launching several economic and social measures from April 2018. It announces a reduction in corporate tax from 15 to 9% for SMEs and a reduction in social contributions for micro-enterprises. At the social level, the government intends to continue the birth rate policy launched under the Szydło government: back-to-school allowance for families, minimum old age for women who have had at least four children and who have never contributed for their retirement, bonuses for women giving birth to a child less than 24 months after the birth of a previous child, etc.
To finance these measures, the government intends to use the revenue generated by the fight against corruption and the good economic results obtained by Poland in 2017 (unemployment of 6.6%, growth of 4.6%, public debt at 48.5% of GDP) 25. In September 2019, his government adopted the finance bill for 2020, which provides for a perfect balance between expenditure and revenue. This first balanced budget since 1989 is based on a forecast of public debt at 43.5% at the end of 2020, annual growth of 3.7%, inflation of 2.5%, an increase in wages, pensions. and household consumption by 6%.
He is leading a reform of the Supreme Court lowering the retirement age of its judges from 70 to 65 years. This project, which concerns 27 of the 72 judges of the Court, is understood as a “cleaning” of the system inherited from the communist period, many judges of that time having remained in place. But this measure is criticized by the European institutions, which leads Mateusz Morawiecki to come and explain himself to the European Parliament in 2018. Le Figaro notes that this subject is in fact a pretext used by the European Commission, which would seek by a roundabout way to sanction Poland, resolutely hostile to its migration quota project.
On January 3, 2018, he made his first bilateral visit abroad to Hungary to meet Viktor Orbán and reaffirms Poland’s opposition to the will of the European institutions to establish migration quotas within the EU29. Some French media such as La Croix, France 24 and France Culture speak on this subject of support for the concept of illiberal democracy30,31,32. This visit comes two weeks after the European Commission triggered Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union with regard to Poland because of “a clear risk of a serious violation of the rule of law “.
While the conservatives deplore the fact that Poland is associated with the Shoah, notably with the expression “Polish death camps”, a memorial law was passed by the Diet at the beginning of the year 201835. It recognizes the country as a nation victim and not accomplice of the crimes committed by Nazi Germany on its territory, and plans to punish with three years imprisonment the “attribution to the Polish nation or state, despite the facts, of crimes against the ‘humanity’. Mateusz Morawiecki provokes debate by referring to “Jewish authors” of the Shoah, in a context of rising anti-Semitism in Poland36,37. A diplomatic crisis ensues with Israel, the United States and the European Union and journalists believe that the text aims to minimize Poland’s responsibility for the extermination of Jews and undermines freedom of expression . He finally had these provisions withdrawn in June 2018, while reaffirming his support for the philosophy of the law.
2019 elections and renewal
In the parliamentary elections of October 13, 2019, which saw the informal coalition of the United Right (ZP) – bringing together PiS and its allies – once again obtaining an absolute majority in the Diet, Mateusz Morawiecki was elected deputy for the first time. Leading candidate in the Katowice constituency, he won 133,687 preference votes, the fourth best national score for Law and Justice after Jarosław Kaczyński, Małgorzata Wassermann and his Minister of National Defense, Mariusz Błaszczak.
He handed in his resignation to Andrzej Duda on November 12, the opening day of the 9th legislature of the Diet and the 10th of the Senate. The head of state then entrusted him with the dispatch of current affairs41. Two days later, the President of the Republic entrusted Morawiecki with the task of forming a new government, the Constitution granting him a period of 14 days. The President of the Council having been recommended since October 30 by his coalition and the latter alone benefiting from a majority in the lower house, his maintenance in power seems assured42,43. The next day he presented his cabinet of 22 ministers, which was immediately sworn in by the Head of State. He himself assumes the direction of the Ministry of Sports, of which the outgoing holder, Witold Bańka, was elected shortly before president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
On November 19, he delivered his general policy speech to the deputies. He then evokes his desire to create a Polish model of prosperity, citing in particular the highest rate of development for the country since 1989, and to defend the family, which he intends to protect from any “ideological war”. It reaffirms its wish to conduct a real demographic policy, supports equal pay between women and men and defends economic patriotism. He also announces that the State will invest two billion złotys to build “1,000 zero emission schools”, will support major infrastructure projects such as a new airport in Warsaw (pl), a canal crossing the Vistula peninsula. , a tunnel under the Świna in Świnoujście, Via Carpatia, Via Baltica, and will modernize more than 9,000 km of railway lines. Saying that he is in favor of the independence of judges but stressing that it should not mean the absence of responsibility, he defends the completion of the European common market and indicates that he wants to fight for fair and just competition. At the end of this declaration, his government received the confidence of the Diet with 237 votes in favor and 214 against.
September 2020 political crisis
Jarosław Kaczyński announced at the beginning of August 2020 his desire for a cabinet reshuffle to be orchestrated over the next two months, in particular to reduce the number of ministries46. This development would be accompanied by a reduction in the place given to Alliance et Poland solidaire, which reacted on September 17 by refusing to vote on a bill on the protection of animal rights, which some leaders of Law and Justice qualify as rupture of the ruling coalition.
The three government parties then embarked on a week of negotiations, which resulted in the confirmation of their partnership and the decision to bring Jarosław Kaczyński – promoter of the law on animals – into the executive, as deputy. President of the Council of Ministers. His role will notably be to supervise sovereign matters. If this development strengthens the role of Jarosław Kaczyński and allows him to neutralize the Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro, who sought to merge Poland in solidarity with Law and Justice with the aim of taking control of the Polish right with the prospect of a possible retirement of Kaczyński, it comes on the contrary weakens Mateusz Morawiecki, designated heir to the president of PiS but who finds himself having to cohabit within the Council of Ministers with the most influential personality of the alliance in power.
The new ministers are finally sworn in on October 6, a day late due to the positive Covid-19 test of the new Minister of National Education Przemysław Czarnek. On this occasion, several ministries were effectively abolished and their total number reduced to 14, which the President of the Council justified by a desire to reduce bureaucracy and speed up the decision-making process within the administration.