Factbox: Polish plane crash leaves institutional vacuum

WARSAW (BestGrowthStock) – The plane crash that killed Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski in Russia on Saturday claimed the lives of dozens of other top state officials, leaving many positions in key institutions empty.

The disaster has also put the speaker of Poland’s lower house of parliament and now acting president, Bronislaw Komorowski, in a delicate situation as he is also the ruling party’s candidate for a presidential election that had been due in the autumn and must now be brought forward.

Under Polish law, the parliamentary speaker announces the date of elections, while the president has a say in appointing many of the state officials who must now be replaced.

The Polish constitution does not provide detailed directions for all the areas impacted by the crisis and analysts said much may be decided by Komorowski’s personal judgments.

Here is a summary of where key institutions now stand.

PRESIDENCY

* Komorowski has said he will announce the date of the presidential election after consultations with political parties due to start on Tuesday. It must be held by late June.

* Analysts said the time needed to prepare for the election meant it would take place nearer the latest possible date.

* Kaczynski had been expected to seek a fresh five-year mandate after winning the endorsement of the main opposition party, the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) led by his identical twin brother Jaroslaw. PiS must now find a new candidate. Also among those killed on Saturday was Jerzy Szmajdzinski, the presidential candidate of the small leftist opposition SLD.

* Komorowski has appointed a new head of the presidential administration and must also replace several other key members of the body who died with Kaczynski in the crash.

GOVERNMENT

* The Polish government must replace three deputy ministers. Two of them had been engaged in past missile shield negotiations with the United States. A deputy culture minister also perished.

PARLIAMENT

* Poland’s lower chamber, the Sejm, lost 15 members, including five senior PiS lawmakers. Under Poland’s electoral system of proportional representation, they will be automatically replaced by politicians who placed second on party lists in the 2007 national election. No elections are necessary.

* The less powerful upper chamber, the Senate, must hold elections in regions represented by the three senators killed in Saturday’s crash. Komorowski will set the date of the elections.

CENTRAL BANK

* Poland’s central bank lost its governor, Slawomir Skrzypek. His deputy, Piotr Wiesiolek, has temporarily taken over his duties but, unlike Skrzypek, he is not a member of the bank’s rate-setting Monetary Policy Council and so cannot vote on monetary policy.

Under Polish law, the president names the central bank’s governor who must then be approved by parliament.

Komorowski said on Monday he saw no need to rush with the appointment of a new governor.

For more stories on the central bank, please click on:

ARMED FORCES

* General Franciszek Gagor, head of the Polish Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the commanders of the air, naval and land forces, were among those who perished, leaving Poland’s armed forces in a state of unprecedented uncertainty.

For a separate story on the armed forces, please click:

OTHER AFFECTED INSTITUTIONS

* The National Remembrance Institute (IPN), which holds Poland’s communist-era files and can prosecute people it believes collaborated with the communist regime, lost its president, Janusz Kurtyka. His deputy has replaced him for now.

* Poland’s National Security Bureau (BBN), a body advising the president on security issues, lost its director, Aleksander Szczyglo. Komorowski said on Monday he would name retired general and former defense minister Stanislaw Koziej for the job on Tuesday.

* Poland’s Ombudsman and the head of its Olympic Committee also perished and have been temporarily replaced.

(Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Factbox: Polish plane crash leaves institutional vacuum