WARSAW — The Polish parliament split along unusual lines Tuesday as the opposition Left party lent the ruling coalition led by the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party crucial votes to push through a bill to ratify the EU’s €672.5 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility.

The fund has to be backed by all member countries to go into effect.

The vote saved PiS from a political defeat after a junior member of the ruling coalition — the United Poland party — balked at supporting the measure. United Poland is opposed to the fund, arguing it would lead to the creation of a federal Europe by letting the EU take on common debt, and also links the use of the money to not violating the rule of law — a source of friction between Brussels and Warsaw.

The fund was backed by 290 MPs with 33 against and 133 abstaining.

“I thank everyone who rose above partisan calculations,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said after the vote, adding: “This vote was a breakthrough. I’m taking it very positively because it turns out that there is a very big majority in our parliament which is aware that we have to work together for our country.”

But the vote also threw the opposition into disarray.

The traditionally pro-EU liberals from Civic Coalition abstained, accusing the Left of betrayal and throwing PiS a lifeline just as its government appeared to be in danger of collapsing, which could have meant an early election.

The Left argued that voting together with the government, which they otherwise detest for trampling on the rights of sexual minorities and barring abortion, guarantees Poland a new “Marshall Plan” — the massive U.S.-funded post-war recovery program that Poland missed out on because it was under Moscow’s domination.

“If the fund falls through, it will be a victory for Europe’s enemies, also present in this chamber,” said one of the Left’s leaders, Adrian Zandberg, in a swipe at United Poland and the far-right.

Without the support of United Poland, the government — which has a majority of three votes in the parliament — faced defeat in ratifying the recovery program.

That left the opposition with the dilemma of whether to support a government it doesn’t trust and accuses of corruption and violating the Polish constitution, or else reject a spending bill that would block a crucial recovery program for Poland and the rest of the bloc. 

The deadlock was broken by the Left, which last week struck a deal to support the rescue fund in return for a series of spending promises from the government.

Poland is expected to receive €58.1 billion, of which €23.9 billion will be in grants and €34.2 billion in loans. Warsaw will have until 2026 to spend the money. 

The program is part of the wider €750 billion Next Generation EU package, aimed at pulling the bloc out of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, as well as boosting key priorities like the green energy transformation.

Those spending plans are laid out in Poland’s National Reconstruction Plan (KPO), which has been sent to the European Commission for approval.

There is little doubt that the PiS-led government will make the KPO a central element in national and local elections set for 2023. 

The liberal opposition accuses PiS of planning to funnel the money toward its own supporters and to penalize regions and cities run by the opposition.

“There’s no guarantee at all that the local government or NGOs will have any say,” said Borys Budka, leader of the Civic Coalition. 

Both the government and the Left say the opposite; spending will be scrutinized by a special monitoring committee made up of government officials, representatives of business, local governments and NGOs. 

The Commission is also going to watch over how the fund is spent. The money will be allocated in stages, with the first equal to 13 percent of the fund’s total size.     

The fund still has to be approved by the Senate, where the opposition holds a narrow majority.  

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