Poland Turns to a Centrist

Parliament picks Donald Tusk as prime minister after breaking from Morawiecki's government
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 11, 2023 5:39 PM CST
Poland Turns to a Centrist
Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki leaves the plenary hall during a parliament session on Monday in Warsaw.   (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)

Poland's parliament elected centrist party leader Donald Tusk as prime minister on Monday, paving the way for a new pro-EU government after eight years of stormy national conservative rule. Tusk becomes prime minister nearly two months after a national election that was won by a coalition of parties ranging from left wing to moderate conservative. The parties ran on separate tickets but promised to work together under Tusk's leadership to restore democratic standards and improve ties with allies. The vote was 248-201 in support of Tusk in the 460-seat lower house of parliament, the Sejm, with no abstentions, the AP reports. After Tusk gave a short speech, all lawmakers rose to sing the national anthem.

Tusk is scheduled to give a speech to parliament on Tuesday, present his Cabinet, and face a vote of confidence for his new government. He should then be sworn in by President Andrzej Duda, a step expected Wednesday. The election of Tusk comes after the former government of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki lost a confidence vote in parliament earlier on Monday. The votes marked the end of eight tumultuous years in which the national conservative Law and Justice party ruled the country with the support of many Poles—while at bitter odds with liberal Poles as well as the European Union and other Western allies, per the AP.

The transition, coming nearly two months after Poles turned out in huge numbers to vote for change, was delayed for weeks by President Andrzej Duda, who kept his political allies in office as long as possible. The change of power is felt as hugely consequential for the 38 million citizens of the central European nation, where collective anger produced a record-high turnout to replace a government that had been eroding democratic norms. There is relief for many women who saw reproductive rights eroded and for LGBTQ+ people who faced a government hate campaign. Former President Lech Walesa, who was hospitalized last week for COVID-19, traveled from his home in Gdansk to attend the parliamentary session. The anti-communist freedom fighter had despaired at what he viewed as the unraveling of democracy.

(More Poland stories.)

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