WARSAW, Poland -- President Lech Walesa said yesterday that he would dissolve Poland's Parliament after the collapse of the government but that Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka would remain in power until new elections within three or four months.
Mr. Walesa, the former Solidarity leader who was elected president in 1990, said he would not accept the prime minister's resignation, offered after her coalition government lost a confidence vote on Friday. Under the Polish Constitution, Ms. Suchocka remains as a caretaker until a new government is elected.
By forcing elections two years ahead of schedule, Mr. Walesa appeared to be hoping that a more stable government would emerge rather than the faction-ridden coalitions that have ruled since Poland's first post-Communist parliamentary elections in 1991.
"I have not accepted the government's resignation and have decided to dissolve Parliament," he said.
Ms. Suchocka, 46, a popular public figure who was unable, however, to control her splintered coalition government, said she would seek approval from Parliament for the power to rule by decree on some important issues already framed in legislation.
"I believe in the deputies' responsibility and that they will decide to give the government these powers, because the country cannot be left without the instruments to govern," Ms. Suchocka said yesterday.
It was not clear whether she would be granted these powers. The dissolution of Parliament is effective with the official publication of Mr. Walesa's decision, probably this week, in the government gazette.
A September election is likely, politicians said, adding that it could be a bitter contest among a xenophobic right wing, former Communists trying to adapt to the mantle of capitalism and more centrist parties such as the Democratic Union, Ms. Suchocka's party.
Prime Minister Suchocka, dubbed by the Poles an "iron lady," won the confidence of international financial institutions by holding the line on Poland's budget. But when she refused to grant pay raises to public employees and increase pensions, the Solidarity members of Parliament pushed the no-confidence vote. They accused her of introducing capitalism with an "inhuman face."
An opposition alliance of the former Communists, nationalist parties on the right and Solidarity proved the undoing of Ms. Suchocka's shaky coalition, patched together from the center-right and her center-left party.
How far the political uncertainties would unravel the economic progress Poland has made, particularly in the past year, was hard to assess, economists and politicians said. More than 50 percent of the Polish work force is employed in the private sector, a mark of the economy's transformation.
Waldemar Kuczynski, a senior member of Ms. Suchocka's party, said the trends would continue. Poland was beginning to resemble Italy, he said: "lots of governments, but still lots of business activity."