Polish government crumbles, US ‘troubled’ by media ownership law

Krakow, Poland, Aug 12 (EFE).- The Polish United Right coalition government crumbled as one of its partners formalized its decision to break the agreement off, the same day Parliament passed a controversial media ownership law that would prevent a popular television channel owned by a US-based company from broadcasting in the country.

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted Thursday that the US was “troubled” by the “draft legislation that would gravely weaken media freedom.”

The draft bill, pushed by the ultraconservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, is known locally as the anti-TVN law, in reference to a private TV station owned by US-based company Discovery and which has been highly critical of the government.

Under the draft law, TV channels not owned by companies based in the European Economic Area would not be granted a broadcast licence, which would pull TVN off the air as a US-owned company.

The draft bill was approved with 228 votes in favour and 216 against, and will now move on to the Senate, which could give its final approval or send the law back to the lower house.

Meanwhile, the coalition government was terminated as Prime Minister Morawiecki dismissed Deputy Prime Minister and Development Minister Jaroslaw Gowin, who is also the leader of the coalition partner Accord.

Gowin immediately announced his resignation and the end of the United Right coalition.

Other members of the Accord Party followed through with their own resignations, citing “loyalty” to Gowin, and rejecting an open invitation by PM Morawiecki to remain in government.

Accord only holds 10 seats in Parliament, but their breakup with the ruling coalition could mean the loss of majority in the house for the government.

The political crisis comes in the midst of other tensions in Poland, as the nation continues to butt heads with the European Union over its controversial judicial reforms.

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