Poland’s parliament elects centrist party leader Donald Tusk as prime minister

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s government lost a confidence vote in parliament on Monday, ending the rule of his national conservative party after eight years in power.


Poland’s parliament elected centrist party leader Donald Tusk as prime minister on Monday, paving the way for a new pro-EU government after eight years of stormy national conservative rule by the Law and Justice Party (PiS).

Tusk becomes prime minister nearly two months after a national election that was won by a coalition of parties ranging from left-wing to moderate conservative. The parties ran on separate tickets but promised to work together under Tusk’s leadership to restore democratic standards and improve ties with allies.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s government lost a confidence vote in parliament earlier on Monday, ending the rule of his national conservative party after eight years in power.

The vote paved the way for the majority in parliament to elect Donald Tusk, a centrist, as prime minister, a role he held already from 2007-2014. 

The transition was delayed for several weeks by Poland’s president Andrzej Duda, who chose to keep his political allies in office as long as possible. 

Collective anger against the ruling PiS produced a record-high turnout in the central European country, with the right-wing populists accused of having long eroded the country’s democracy and women’s reproductive rights while targeting Poland’s LGBT community. 

Expectations are enormous for the incoming government, however. Plus populist nationalists will remain a powerful opposition force and continue to control several state institutions.

“The new government will have to fight every day because the PiS… will not give up and will continue to fight,” political analyst Jaroslaw Kuisz told the AFP news agency.

“It will be a quagmire” rather than rapid change, he claimed, with PiS having appointed allies to the judiciary and within political bodies that analysts call a “spider’s web” around the state. 

President Duda – whose presidential mandate does not end until 2025 – can exercise his right to veto laws adopted by parliament. He is a PiS ally. 

A change of government holds implications for Ukraine and the EU as well.

Tusk, a past EU leader, is expected to improve Warsaw’s standing in Brussels. His leadership will boost centrist, pro-EU forces at a time when eurosceptics, such as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, are gaining strength.

Poland’s outgoing nationalist government was initially one of Kyiv’s strongest allies after Russia invaded Ukraine last year. However, ties have worsened as economic competition from Ukrainian food producers and truckers has angered Poles who say their livelihoods are threatened.

A blockade by Polish truckers at the border with Ukraine counts among the many problems Tusk will have to tackle immediately. 

The next days will be packed with political steps dictated by the Constitution.

The Tusk-led alliance won a clear majority of seats in the 15 October vote, but President Duda gave incumbent prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, the first chance at forming a government, widely seen as a delaying tactic.

The PiS used these two extra months of power “to strengthen itself institutionally and financially”, said analyst Kuisz.

The right-wingers appointed their representatives at the head of different institutions, with often irrevocable mandates, alongside the national prosecutor’s office and around 150 new judges. 


Morawiecki presented a new government to the Sejm, Poland’s parliament, on Monday, which was followed by a vote of confidence that he lost. 

Made up of the Citizen Coalition (centrist), the Third Way (Christian Democrat) and the Left, Tusk’s coalition has 248 deputies, compared to 194 from PiS and 18 others from the Confederation (far right). 

After intense negotiations between prospective coalition partners, a cabinet has already been agreed.

Tusk intends to be able to represent his country at the next European summit, Thursday and Friday in Brussels.


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