When his term as President of the European Council ends in 2019, Donald Tusk may have entered semi-retirement. Instead, the former Polish prime minister is returning to his homeland to fight his main rival, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, in a tough final battle.
Saturday, Tusk Recovery control The Civic Platform Party is a center-right party that he co-founded 20 years ago. The same day, Kaczynski was re-elected as leader of the conservative-nationalist Law and Justice party which has dominated Polish politics since Tusk swapped Warsaw for Brussels in 2014.
The two-year-long competition between Tusk, who supports Europe, and Kaczynski, who is more skeptical of Europe, has restarted, and it is likely to play a key role in the country’s next parliamentary election in 2023. The result is likely to affect Poland’s long-term relationship with the EU.The European Union, where law and justice repeatedly conflict with the European Union Polish judicial reform Brussels sees this as a fundamental threat to the rule of law.
“The competition has started”, the front page of one of Poland’s major newspapers, Rzeczpospolita, announced on Monday. “This stormy political weekend actually started what may be the longest and most exhausting election campaign since 1989.”
Since Tusk left Polish politics, law and justice have won the parliamentary, presidential and European elections.In the latest Parliamentary vote In 2019, it won Best result Any political party in Poland since the fall of communism.
However, Tusk’s return comes at a time when the three-party ruling coalition of law and justice looks increasingly fragile.In the past year, opinion polls have shown that its approval rate has dropped by nearly 10 percentage points to About 33%, Driven by controversy, such as Tighten Poland’s extremely strict abortion laws and the wider erosion of support for incumbents during the pandemic.
Also in trouble InfightingLast month, three law and judicial deputies left to form their own groups, depriving the coalition of a weak majority in Parliament. Since then, it has managed to recover most of it. But loosening control of the parliament has sparked discussions about early elections this year or next.
In this context, the return of Tusk has injected vitality into the previously drifting Civic Platform. “I think [Tusk] It is believed that law and justice have become defeatable, but what is lacking is that the leadership of the opposition can do this. And I think he has the opportunity to create such a successful machine,” said Radoslaw Sikorsky, a member of the European Parliament who was Minister of Foreign Affairs during Tusk’s tenure as prime minister.
“The ruling party is now on the defensive, and we are offensive again.”
However, despite the troubles of law and justice, Tusk faces the huge challenge of revitalizing the citizen platform, which under his leadership defeated law and justice in the 2007 and 2011 elections. In recent months, opinion polls have only given it a support rate of 16%, which is almost not half of the level during the 2019 general election.
Part of the reason is the emergence of Poland 2050, an upstart political party founded by the media-friendly former TV presenter Szymon Holownia, which ranked second in recent polls. But the civic platform also lacked leadership and failed to formulate policies to match the popularity of generosity. Welfare plan This laid the foundation for the success of “Law and Justice”.
Since his return on Saturday, Tusk has been severely criticizing the years of law and justice in power. He accused the party of “an imitation of dictatorship” because it eroded democratic checks and balances and emphasized the international isolation caused by frequent conflicts between Warsaw and Brussels. But he rarely talks about policy, and observers say that attacking law and justice alone is not a successful strategy.
“[Tusk] It’s a fierce criticism of law and justice, which is consistent with the core of anti-law and justice voters. That’s why I think that in the short term civic platforms will unite,” said Professor of Political Science Alex Szebiak in University of Sussex, UK.
“The problem is, you can’t win those people. You win by surpassing hardcore anti-law and just voters.”
Analysts say that the first reliable measure of Tusk’s influence may emerge this fall. At that time, he will have time to re-establish his authority in his party, and the Law and Justice Party will test its majority in the process of trying to promote its new economic plan. Polish transaction.
“Tusk’s return is a turning point-although it is not clear which direction it is heading. The Civic Platform has encountered a lot of trouble,” said Anna Materska-Sosnowska, a political scientist at the University of Warsaw.
“Tusk’s return gives the party a chance to rebound. It will be boosted in the polls-the question is how long it will last. If it continues, this will be a turning point for the party. If it does not last, it will also be a turning point. The turning point, because this will mean the end of the Civic Platform.”