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Polish parliament elects Donald Tusk as prime minister

December 11, 2023

Poland's parliament elected centrist Donald Tusk as the new prime minister after incumbent Mateusz Morawiecki lost a key confidence vote.

Tusk smiles after Poland's conservative leadership loses grip on power
In addition to his earlier stint as PM, Tusk was also the president of the European CouncilImage: Michal Dyjuk/AP/picture alliance

Poland's new parliament elected centrist party leader Donald Tusk as prime minister on Monday. Tusk becomes prime minister nearly two months after national elections won by a coalition of parties ranging from left-wing to moderately conservative.

The alliance of pro-EU parties signed an agreement last month, paving the way for a coalition government.

Earlier on Monday, the parliament rejected the proposed conservative government of acting Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, a widely expected outcome that paved the way for the rival alliance to form the next government.

Only 190 deputies voted in favor of the Morawiecki government, while 266 voted against it and there were no abstentions.

Morawiecki's Law and Justice (PiS) party lost its majority but retained its status as the largest single party in October's elections.

Morawiecki's failure opens the door for former Polish Prime Minister and former European Council President Donald Tusk.

Tusk led a broad pro-EU opposition coalition in a bid to unseat PiS after two terms in power.

Donald Tusk's pro-EU coalition set to take power in Poland

Why was Morawiecki nominated if PiS lost its majority? 

The decision on who to nominate for the first shot at forming a government after an election rests with Poland's president, Andrzej Duda, previously a PiS ally. 

Duda nominated Morawiecki and PiS, despite them not commanding a majority, saying it was customary to give this chance to the largest party.

Morawiecki's caretaker government was technically sworn in, but under Polish rules it had to win a vote of confidence within two weeks to cement its position.

Poland's President Andrzej Duda, left, shakes hands with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, during a swearing-in ceremony in Warsaw, Poland, Monday Nov. 27, 2023
President Duda (L) had tasked Morawiecki (R) with forming a new government following the October voteImage: Czarek Sokolowski/dpa/picture alliance

What might change under a Tusk-led government? 

Tusk, Polish prime minister from 2007 to 2014 and then European Council president from 2014 to 2019, returned to front-line Polish politics as leader of his pro-European, centrist Civic Coalition in 2021. 

PiS has had a fraught relationship with the European Union since 2015, frequently in dispute with Brussels. 

Tusk has pledged to rebuild relations with Brussels on returning to power in Warsaw, partly with an eye to securing the release of EU funds that were frozen amid an ongoing standoff over the rule of law in Poland. 

rmt,dh/msh,wd (dpa, Reuters)