Former EU chief Donald Tusk elected leader of Polish opposition party

3 July 2021, 17:33

Donald Tusk was elected head of Poland's strongest opposition party on Saturday
Donald Tusk was elected head of Poland's strongest opposition party on Saturday. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Former European Union leader and ex-prime minister Donald Tusk has been elected head of Poland's strongest opposition party.

The 64-year-old statesman said he was returning to Polish politics and the Civic Platform Party - part of the country's fragmented opposition - to help combat the "evil" of the current right-wing government.

Mr Tusk, who ruled as prime minister for nearly eight years with the centre-liberal party, co-founded Civic Platform in 2001.

The current conservative team won power in 2015, with the Law and Justice Party's Mateusz Morawiecki taking office at the end of 2017.

Speaking about the current government, Mr Tusk said: "I know that many Poles were waiting for this black dream to be over."

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"Today, evil rules in Poland and we are ready to fight against this evil," he added.

It comes as the Law and Justice Party appears to be on a collision course with the EU.

The bloc and its court have opened procedures against the current government, saying its changes to the Polish justice system - and opposition to some EU decisions, such as relocation of migrants - have contradicted EU principles.

Mr Tusk also said he was coming back to politics as his party is "necessary as the force... that can win the battle with Law and Justice over Poland's future".

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"There is no chance for victory without the Platform," Mr Tusk added.

The former head of the EU said he had a sense of responsibility for the party that he had co-founded prior to taking up his position as head of the bloc.

Opinion polls currently appear to show the current government is ahead of its opponents because of generous family bonuses and conservative policies that appeal to the Catholic majority in society.

However, mounting disputes with the European Union and internal struggles have rattled the unity and loyalty of the coalition, which recently lost its majority in parliament.