Elections Poland

Poland’s Political Shift: Donald Tusk Takes the Helm as PiS Bows Out

| 2023-12-11 2 min read

Poland’s Political Shift: Donald Tusk Takes the Helm as PiS Bows Out

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In a decisive transition, Poland bids farewell to the Law and Justice (PiS) party’s tumultuous eight-year reign as Donald Tusk prepares to resume leadership, promising a revolution in domestic politics and the nation’s global relations.

Tusk emphasised the need to restore the rule of law and avoid further political discord, at a news conference after meeting future cabinet members. The impending change of government will be seismic after PiS’s tenure, and is marked by anticipation and a commitment to ushering in a new era.

Several steps remain in the political shuffle before Tusk takes office, however. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who has led PiS since 2017, is scheduled to address Parliament at 10am, outlining his cabinet’s priorities.

At 3pm, a parliamentary vote of confidence is expected, a foregone conclusion given the opposition coalition’s majority control with 248 seats compared to PiS’s 191 in the 460-member parliament.

Despite heading up a “no-hope” government, Morawiecki was nominated by President Andrzej Duda two weeks ago, reflecting PiS as the largest party post-October 15 elections. However, as PiS lacks a majority and faces reluctance from other parties to collaborate, Morawiecki’s fate is sealed.

At 4:30pm, Parliament will nominate Tusk as Poland’s next prime minister, supported by the centrist Civic Coalition, liberal Poland 2050 party, conservative agrarian Polish People’s Party, and the Left. The decision will be subject to confirmation via a parliamentary vote later in the day.

On Tuesday at 9am, Tusk is expected to present his Cabinet and governing programme to parliament, followed by a vote of confidence at 3pm. The new government will be sworn in on Wednesday morning, and Tusk is expected to attend Thursday’s EU-Balkan summit and the Brussels EU leaders’ summit.

Tusk to prioritise unfreezing EU funds, PiS accountability

As Tusk gears up to lead Poland, his priorities include unlocking EUR 35bn in grants and loans from the EU’s pandemic relief programme, as well as EUR 76.5bn in regular EU development funds currently withheld due to concerns about Poland’s judiciary changes. Collaboration with incoming Justice Minister Adam Bodnar and Europe Minister Adam Szlapka is underway to address these concerns, reflecting a key campaign promise.

However, passing new laws on the judicial system requires Duda’s approval. The president has signalled resistance, recently swearing in 76 judges named by a flawed judicial nomination body that has been condemned by the Court of Justice of the EU and the European Commission.

Despite potential challenges, Tusk remains undeterred, asserting an unwavering commitment to restoring the rule of law. He also pledges accountability for any wrongdoing during PiS’s tenure, stating, “there will be no accommodation with evil”.

Tusk criticised Morawiecki’s brief interregnum, deeming it a costly waste of time and money. As Poland anticipates a new chapter under Tusk’s leadership, and “100 policies for first 100 days” in office, the stage is set for a transformative period for Poland.