Saturday

22nd Feb 2020

Poles choose to oust Kaczynski party from power

The governing conservative party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski suffered a strong defeat at the hands of the centre-right opposition in Sunday's elections.

The opposition leader and would-be prime minister Donald Tusk has promised to restore the country's relations with major EU states and improve finances as part of a strategy for the early adoption of the bloc's single currency.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

"I'm the happiest man on earth - not only as we've managed to win but also because I've met my smiling fellow-citizens who believed that tomorrow would be better," Mr Tusk told his supporters on Sunday night (21 October), according to Polish public TV.

He was reacting to early poll results suggesting his pro-business and pro-European Civic platform party (PO) had received the biggest share of the vote. It gained around 42 percent beating its main competitor, the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), which received around 32 percent of the votes.

The two other parties that made it into the parliament are the Left and Democrats of ex-president Alexander Kwasniewski - third place (13%) - and the Polish Peasants' party (9%), expected to join the ruling coalition.

As predicted, the Self-defence party and the League of Polish families - the former coalition partners of the outgoing prime minister Kaczynski until a clash in late August - did not pass the five percent parliamentary threshold.

"We will be a tough opposition," said Mr Kaczynski in reaction to the results, stressing that his party had received more votes than in the 2005 poll.

There was an unexpectedly high turn-out (53.2%) on Sunday but it was not enough for Mr Kaczynski's conservative PiS party to win.

The voting concluded almost three hours later than originally scheduled due to a shortage of ballots in one polling station in Warsaw, with official results set to be announced only on Tuesday.

Victory after two defeats

For Mr Tusk, 50, Sunday's election means success at the third attempt, as he lost to Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his twin brother Lech, Poland's president, in both parliamentary and presidential elections in 2005.

After that double defeat, many political analysts wrote off his future chances of making a political comeback.

Mr Tusk is of Kashubian origin, a 300,000-strong minority in the north-west part of the country, with some of his political opponents accusing him of being too pro-German.

For his part, Mr Tusk has said he wants to restore relations with Germany after several bitter clashes by the Kaczynski government with Berlin, mainly over historic issues and contacts with Russia.

His PO party is also aiming to slash red tape and introduce a flat rate tax to make the country more business-friendly as well as conclude the privatisation process in the remaining state sectors.

"It is a good day for the Polish economy," the PO's chief economic spokesman Zbigniew Chlebowski was quoted as saying by Thomson Financial News at the party's victory celebration.

"I believe that adopting the euro in 2012-2013 is realistic," he added, in contrast to the out-going government which refrained from setting a euro entry date and was seen as favouring a later rather than earlier adoption of the single currency.

The victorious Civic Platform party also plans to pull Polish troops from Iraq early in 2008, a top party official said, according to Reuters.

New Polish leader vows to repair EU and Russia ties

Poland's prime minister elect Donald Tusk has indicated that improving relations with Russia will be among the top priorities of his cabinet, with Moscow also sending signals of hope for solving long-term disputes with Warsaw.

German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job

Hungary's PM Viktor Orban appointed controversial former commissioner Guenther Oettinger to a government council in a way that might break EU rules. Oettinger claims he did not know about the appointment.

EU leaders face major clash on rule of law budget link

One major issue dividing member states in the ongoing budget negotiations is inserting a direct link between EU subsidies and the rule of law. While the biggest battle will be over figures, the rule of law conditionality also creates tension.

Analysis

Is Belgium heading for new elections?

Belgian coalition talks have hit a wall nine months after elections, posing the possibility of a new vote, which risks making the country even harder to govern.

Central Europe mayors join in direct EU funds plea

They call themselves the "Pact of Free Cities". The mayors of Budapest, Bratislava, Prague and Warsaw want EU funds to bypass their governments, in order to fight climate change and populism.

Analysis

German domestic turmoil prolongs EU leadership gap

A leadership contest is back on in German chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling CDU party - which could decide not only the centre-right's future but also Germany's European policy. Berlin has been absent from the EU and will likely remain so.

News in Brief

  1. Bulgarian PM investigated over 'money laundering'
  2. Greenpeace breaks into French nuclear plant
  3. Germany increases police presence after shootings
  4. NGO: US and EU 'watering-down' tax reform prior to G20
  5. Iran: parliamentary elections, conservatives likely to win
  6. Belgian CEOs raise alarm on political crisis
  7. Germans voice anger on rise of far-right terrorism
  8. EU leaders' budget summit drags on overnight

Five new post-Brexit MEPs to watch

Five MEPs to keep an eye on from the 27 new members who are joining the European Parliament this week, following the UK's departure from the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. No breakthrough at EU budget summit
  2. EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock
  3. German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job
  4. How big is Germany's far-right problem?
  5. Plastic and carbon proposals to help plug Brexit budget gap
  6. Sassoli repeats EU budget rejection warning
  7. Why Miroslav Lajčák is the wrong choice for EU envoy
  8. Unhappy EU leaders begin budget haggle

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us