Walesa Waits on Threat to Dismiss Parliament

WARSAW -- President Lech Walesa, holding fire on a threat to dissolve parliament and in effect giving the ruling leftist coalition some breathing space, appeared Tuesday to be waiting for the government itself to propose radical cabinet changes.

Walesa's spokesman, Leszek Spalinski, told reporters that the president might wait until next week before adopting "radical measures."

"I think the president has given time for decisions ... which should be made by the end of this week or early next week," Spalinski said.

On Monday, Walesa, who regards himself as the guardian of the free post-communist order he helped to create as head of the Solidarity trade union through the 1980s, held a tense meeting with parliament's top officials.

Some commentators expected him at that point to declare he would wind up the left-dominated legislature.

But instead Walesa reiterated his threats and said he would carry them out only if Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak kept his job and the cabinet remained unchanged.

Walesa says that Pawlak is stalling market reforms begun after the fall of communism in 1989 and that several of his ministers have been involved in scandal. Pawlak, who heads the Polish Peasant Party, the coalition's smaller grouping, stands by his record and has refused to go.

Spalinski said the president might accept either a new cabinet headed by the leader of the coalition's bigger partner, Aleksander Kwasniewski, or a non-party government of experts -- a proposal made by opposition groups.

Kwasniewski, chairman of the Democratic Left Alliance, a party headed by former communists turned social democrats, has said he is ready to take the top job.

Spalinski said the president would unblock the country's 1995 budget if the coalition decided to change the government. Walesa has not signed the budget and has challenged its constitutionality in court.

He says the fact that approval of the budget has been delayed beyond a constitutional deadline gives him a legal reason to dismiss parliament and call new elections.

The government and most parliamentarians dispute this legal interpretation and say Walesa is irresponsibly using the budget to blackmail them into dropping Pawlak.

They say Walesa's real concern is to boost his popularity before presidential elections scheduled late this year.