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June 24, 2024

Tusk Returns as Polish PM, Vows Unity and Support for Ukraine

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Dec 12, 2023

Tusk Regains Power After 8 Years, Defeats Ruling PiS Party

After 8 years out of power, Donald Tusk was sworn in as Prime Minister of Poland on Tuesday, replacing Mateusz Morawiecki after Tusk’s center-right Civic Platform party defeated the ruling conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) in a parliamentary vote.

Tusk previously served as Poland’s Prime Minister from 2007-2014 before becoming President of the European Council. His return caps a dramatic political turnaround after PiS and its allies governed Poland with an absolute majority for the last 8 years.

“There is no time to lose in reforming the state and repairing Poland’s ties with Europe,” said Tusk after being sworn in. He vowed to end Poland’s isolation in the EU and mobilize international support for Ukraine.

Parliament Vote Ends PiS Majority Rule

Tusk’s Civic Platform party formed a new governing coalition with Poland’s Left, Poland 2050, and the Polish Peasants’ Party after winning a majority of votes in parliament to oust PM Morawiecki.

PiS suffered a loss of popularity this year due to Poland’s rising inflation and interest rates, as well as increased tensions with the EU over rule-of-law disputes. Their defeat in October’s election came as a surprise ending to 8 years of single-party control.

Poland October 2022 Election Results Seats Won
Law and Justice (PiS) 197
Civic Coalition (PO+ others) 134
The Left 46
Poland 2050 24
Polish Peasants’ Party 15

“We have opened the path from darkness to light,” said Tusk on his first day as PM. “A peaceful and positive revolution has happened.”

Priorities: Economy, Democratic Reforms, Ukraine Support

With Poland facing economic troubles and ongoing disputes with the EU, Tusk outlined three priorities for his incoming government:

  1. Improving Poland’s economy and reducing inflation. Tusk warned of significant budget troubles left by PiS’s spending policies. “We will have to manage public money much more wisely,” he stated.

  2. Increasing judicial independence and rule of law. Tusk promised reforms to resolve disputes with EU courts and restore checks and balances undermined by PiS policies giving more political control over judges.

  3. Supporting Ukraine. Tusk vowed “full mobilization” internationally to continue supplying weapons, aid and shelter to Ukraine. “The free world has the right to self-defense against imperialist violence,” he said, portraying Ukraine’s fate as tied to Poland’s security.

The commitments aim to chart a more Europe-friendly course – while inheriting a host of difficult fiscal and institutional challenges left from years of clashes between EU institutions and Poland’s erstwhile PiS government.

“Tusk has a monumental reconstruction project ahead. The depth of the problems left by PiS should not be underestimated,” commented political scientist Radosław Markowski.

Mixed Reactions: Optimism and Uncertainty

Reactions to Tusk’s rise as Poland’s new leader have ranged from optimistic to cautious.

Ukraine President Zelenskyy congratulated Tusk, thanking him for the “unwavering support” and expressing confidence that Polish backing for Ukraine would continue.

Irish PM Varadkar also offered congratulations, calling it “a good day for Poland and for Europe,” while EU Commission head Von Der Leyen said she looked forward to cooperating with Tusk.

However, Poland’s right-wing President Duda warned he will closely watch Tusk’s policies affecting Polish sovereignty. “I will not allow Poland to be harmed,” he stated.

There is also uncertainty around how much leeway Tusk will have to pursue reforms as President Duda still retains veto power over legislation. “President Duda will certainly not sit idly by,” said political analyst Marcin Duma.

PiS Party Plots Return to Power

While acknowledging their election defeat, PiS leader Kaczyński remained defiant, insisting PiS represents the only “future for Poland” and pledging to regain power from the political left.

Kaczyński announced PiS will hold their party congress in early 2023 to chart a path back towards regaining a parliamentary majority.

“Tusk may control the parliament, but his hold is unstable. PiS still has strong support among many Poles,” said right-wing commentator Tomasz Terlikowski. He predicts Poland’s politics will remain deeply divided between liberals and conservatives.

Conclusion: Rocky Path Ahead Requires Compromise

Tusk faces a difficult balancing act between EU demands for reforms, President Duda’s opposition, and the lingering power of PiS’s conservative base.

Navigating these political tensions to achieve economic and institutional changes will test the new government’s promised agenda of unity. Much could hinge on Tusk’s ability to compromise across Poland’s ideological spectrum.

“True progress will only occur if Tusk and Duda work cooperatively,” said MP Hanna Zdanowska from Poland’s Left party. “We cannot simply eliminate those with differing views.”

Poland’s new leader inherits no shortage of problems. But there is now renewed possibility of healing domestic and European rifts – if Tusk can successfully manage both rising expectations and lingering resistance to his reform plans.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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