Tusk poised for prime minister role as Polish parliament votes

FILE PHOTO: Leader of Civic Platform (PO) Donald Tusk attends the first session of the newly elected Polish parliament in Warsaw, Poland November 13, 2023. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/FILE PHOTO

Former European Council President Donald Tusk is expected to be appointed prime minister of Poland on Monday, during a parliament sitting set to captivate the nation.

Poland, a European Union and NATO member, has seen an unprecedented level of interest in the workings of the legislature since an Oct. 15 election gave a majority to a broad alliance of pro-European Union parties headed by Tusk.

Subscriptions to the chamber’s YouTube channel have skyrocketed since it resumed work to around 439,000 on Sunday.

Certain sittings have attracted well over a million viewers on the platform and one Warsaw cinema has even decided to put Monday’s session onto the big screen. Tickets had sold out when Reuters called to enquire on Sunday.

“Monday and Tuesday are two of the most important days in Polish history since 1989,” said Michal Kobosko, deputy head of the Poland 2050 party which forms part of the coalition poised to take power, referring to the year Communist rule ended.

Incumbent Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party came first in the election and President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, gave him the first shot at forming a government.

However, this appears almost impossible as Morawiecki lacks a majority and all other parties have ruled out working with PiS, whose eight years in power have been marked by numerous disputes with the European Union over issues including judicial independence that have led to billions in funds being frozen.

Morawiecki will deliver a speech to the chamber on Monday which will be followed by a vote of confidence.

While his hopes of remaining prime minister seem slim, PiS lawmaker Radoslaw Fogiel says his speech will be a chance to present the party’s vision for the nation.

“This will be a very good framework for our future political endeavours, showing our voters what we want to achieve and if actually someone else is elected as prime minister this will be a very good way to make comparisons,” he said.

PiS has sought to contrast its mix of conservative social values and left-leaning economic policies with Tusk‘s liberal programme, which it says is beholden to foreign interests and indifferent to the wellbeing of less affluent Poles.

If Morawiecki loses the vote, the job of selecting a new prime minister will fall to parliament, where Tusk has the backing of a clear majority. He would then address the chamber on Tuesday.


Poland’s October election signalled a return to the European mainstream for Poland after eight years of PiS rule during which critics say it undermined the independence of the courts, turned state-owned media into a propaganda tube and fomented prejudice against minorities like immigrants and the LGBT community.

“Many people… consider what happened in Poland to be a kind of miracle,” said Katarzyna Lubnauer, a lawmaker from Tusk‘s Civic Coalition (KO) grouping, referring to the record turnout that gave the opposition a majority despite the hostility of state-controlled media.

“Therefore, Poles are interested in what is happening in the parliament, in this change.”

Some observers have also attributed the surge in interest to the appointment of a celebrity as speaker of parliament.

Szymon Holownia’s wise-cracking approach to running debates has charmed many viewers who first got to know him as the host of a prime-time talent show.

“Szymon Holownia, the star showman, is making it into an appropriate spectacle,” said Anna Materska-Sosnowska, a political scientist at Warsaw University.

“He makes fun of people, he jokes, but he does it in a very civilised way.”

However, not everyone is impressed.

“From the point of view of a humble parliamentarian I would prefer a speaker who does not completely focus on infotainment,” said Fogiel.

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