Donald Tusk Appointed Polish PM, Setting Stage for Warmer EU Ties

Donald Tusk speaks to lawmaker after he was elected as Poland’s Prime Minister at the parliament in Warsaw, Poland, Monday Dec. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW(Reuters) – Poland’s parliament backed Donald Tusk to become prime minister on Monday, ending eight years of nationalist rule and putting the country on track for a thawing of relations with the European Union.

Poland has seen tens of billions of euros of European Union funds frozen due to a dispute with Brussels over democratic standards, but Tusk, a former European Council president, has vowed to mend relations and unblock the cash.

Tusk got the votes of 248 lawmakers while 201 were against.

“I will be indebted to all those who trusted in this new, wonderful Poland, to all those who trusted us …and decided to make this historic change,” he told the chamber after the vote.

Earlier in the day former Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party lost a vote of confidence.

His party came first in the Oct. 15 election and got the first shot at forming a government, but it lacked necessary majority and all other parties had ruled out working with it.

PiS has cast itself as a defender of Poland’s sovereignty and identity.

Critics, however, say PiS undermined judicial independence, turned state-owned media into a propaganda outlet and fomented prejudice against minorities, including immigrants.

PiS was responsible for outlawing public condemnations of Poland’s history of Nazi collaboration during the Holocaust.

Tusk will give a speech to parliament on Tuesday laying out his government’s plans and will then face a vote of confidence.

Poland’s October election saw a record turnout of 74% with people in some locations queueing for hours to vote.

“They didn’t give up in these lines, they just stayed there until midnight and they still wanted to be part of this change,” parliament speaker Szymon Holownia told reporters.

“Dear members of parliament … the power that we showed on Oct. 15 is in our hands.”

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!