March 4, 2024

Donald Tusk turns into Poland’s prime minister with the mission of enhancing European Union ties


WARSAW, Poland: Donald Tusk, a pacesetter of a centrist celebration, returned as Poland’s prime minister for the primary time in almost a decade after a vote in parliament on Monday, paving the way in which for a brand new pro-European Union authorities following eight years of stormy nationwide conservative rule.

Tusk, a former EU chief who served as European Council president from 2014-2019 and has sturdy connections in Brussels, is predicted to enhance Warsaw’s standing within the bloc’s capital. He was Poland’s prime minister from 2007-2014.

Tusk’s ascension to energy got here almost two months after an election which was gained by a coalition of events starting from left-wing to reasonable conservative. The events ran on separate tickets, however promised to work collectively underneath Tusk’s management to revive democratic requirements and enhance ties with allies.

The change of energy is felt as massively consequential for the 38 million residents of the Central European nation, the place collective anger towards the Regulation and Justice celebration produced a record-high turnout to interchange a authorities many believed was eroding democratic norms.

Regulation and Justice, which took workplace in 2015, elevated its energy over courts and judicial our bodies, drawing accusations from the EU and others that it was eroding judicial independence. It additionally turned taxpayer funded public media into a celebration mouthpiece.

The vote was 248-201 in help of Tusk within the 460-seat decrease home of parliament, the Sejm, with no abstentions.

“Thanks Poland, that is actually a beautiful day,” Tusk mentioned in a brief speech. “Not just for me, however for all those that all through these a few years deeply believed … that issues would get higher.”

Tusk is scheduled on Tuesday to present a extra substantial speech to parliament, current his Cupboard and face a vote of confidence for his new authorities. He ought to then be sworn in by President Andrzej Duda, a step scheduled for Wednesday morning.

The election of Tusk comes after the previous authorities of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki misplaced a confidence vote in parliament earlier within the day.

The votes marked the ended of eight tumultuous years during which Regulation and Justice dominated the nation with the help of many Poles — however at bitter odds with liberal Poles in addition to the 27-nation EU and different Western allies.

Tusk’s management of the EU’s fifth-largest member by inhabitants will increase centrist, pro-EU forces at a time when euroskeptics, similar to Geert Wilders within the Netherlands, are gaining power.

European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen may hardly include her elation in congratulating Tusk.

“Your expertise and robust dedication to our European values will probably be treasured in forging a stronger Europe, for the advantage of the Polish individuals,” she tweeted. “I look ahead to working with you, beginning with this week’s essential” summit, which begins Thursday.

The facility transition, coming almost two months after the election, was delayed for weeks by Duda, who stored his political allies in workplace so long as attainable.

Voters who opted for change, together with many younger Poles, had been anticipating the transition to lastly arrive, and the parliamentary proceedings have ignited widespread curiosity, resulting in a spike within the variety of individuals watching the parliament’s livestream on-line.

Szymon Holownia, a former actuality tv character who leads a celebration allied with Tusk, grew to become the speaker of parliament final month and has attracted curiosity as he has tried to encourage self-discipline within the generally raucous meeting.

A Warsaw cinema, which livestreamed Monday’s proceedings, drew spectators who munched on popcorn and erupted in laughter because the outgoing prime minister spoke.

“So many disturbing issues passed off up to now eight years that I’m not shocked by this pleasure that it’s over,” mentioned Justyna Lemanska, a younger promoting company worker within the viewers.

There may be reduction for a lot of ladies who noticed reproductive rights eroded and LGBTQ+ individuals who confronted a authorities hate marketing campaign that drove some to go away the nation.

Regulation and Justice stays in style with many conservatives because of its adherence to conventional Roman Catholic values, and the recognition of social spending insurance policies. The celebration lowered the retirement age and launched money funds to households with kids whereas additionally growing pension funds to older individuals.

The day marked a bitter flip for Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the conservative ruling celebration chief who has guided Poland for the previous eight years however now, at 74, is seeing the large energy he wielded slip away.

Kaczynski has for years accused Tusk, who has good relations with Germany and different international locations, of representing the pursuits of Berlin, although there isn’t any proof of that.

On the finish of the parliamentary session, Kaczynski went up the lectern, turned to Tusk, and mentioned with anger: “You’re a German agent, merely a German agent.”

Tusk frowned, whereas Holownia expressed his disappointment that the day ended on a bitter observe.

Former President Lech Walesa, who was hospitalized final week with COVID-19 and stays weak, traveled from his dwelling in Gdansk to attend the parliamentary session.

The anti-communist freedom fighter had despaired at what he seen because the unraveling of democracy underneath Kaczynski. He appeared in parliament carrying a shirt with the phrase “Structure” — a slogan towards Regulation and Justice. He watched the occasions from a balcony, and was given a standing ovation by Tusk and different political admirers.

Tusk’s authorities could have many challenges to face, together with Russia’s conflict throughout the border in Ukraine.

Tusk plans to fly to Brussels for an EU summit later within the week for discussions crucial to Ukraine’s future. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Russia’s closest ally within the EU, is demanding that Ukraine’s membership within the EU and billions of euros in funding meant for the war-torn nation be taken off the agenda.

Poland’s outgoing authorities was initially certainly one of Kyiv’s strongest allies after Russia invaded Ukraine almost two years in the past, however ties have worsened as financial competitors from Ukrainian meals producers and truckers has angered Poles who say their livelihoods are threatened.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted his congratulations to Tusk, saying: “After we stand collectively, each our nations’ freedom is unbeatable.”