Secretly filmed talks prompt corruption allegations against Polish government

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A secretly filmed footage aired by Polish TV prompted accusations of "political corruption" on the part of the ruling party and calls for the government to step down and the parliament to be dissolved.

The scandal burst out when Polish TV channel, TVN, aired footage secretly filmed by opposition MP Renata Beger. The footage presents Adam Lipiński, a government minister and top aide of Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński offering Beger a government post, legal and financial aid in return for defecting from her party and joining the ruling coalition.

The conversation between the two politicians comes amidst a larger-scale effort on the part of the ruling Prawo i Sprawiedliwość ("Law and Justice") party to woo members of former coalition partner Samoobrona to leave their party and support the governing coalition. The efforts follow the deposing of Samoobrona's leader Andrzej Lepper from his position as deputy prime minister, after he refused to support the budget proposal accepted by the Council of Ministers.

The broadcast of the footage has led to calls for the immediate dismissal of the government and for new elections to be held. Prawo i Sprawiedliwość has called the revealed conversation "normal practice", and ruled out the possibility of the government stepping down. The scandal, however, severely complicates the party's attempt to rebuild parliamentary majority and undermines their public support, as its popularity was built on declarations of fighting corruption in politics.

The day after the footage was aired, protesters started gathering before the buildings of the parliament, and some pitching tents to spend the night there.

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