Shake-up looms over Poland's main opposition party
Poland's biggest opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform (PO), is facing leadership changes as the party's ratings have plummeted, diminishing its chances to take over government from the ruling conservative camp.
The party, which headed a coalition government in 2007-2015, has struggled to maintain its popularity as new competitors emerged and voters became disillusioned that PO has any chance to remove the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government from power.
Many PO members and supporters blame the current party leader, Borys Budka, for the poor performance of the centrist group, despite its being the second-biggest party in the Polish parliament.
Some PO politicians have been awaiting the return of the party's former leader Donald Tusk, who left Poland for the EU in 2014 to become the European Council president, a post he held for two terms.
Tusk has so far refrained from Polish politics, but there have been widespread rumours he may come back to help PO overcome the crisis.
But in the meantime, a new prospective leader has emerged, Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, who represents the more liberal wing within PO. Last year, Trzaskowski lost the presidential election by only a small percentage difference to the PiS-supported incumbent, Andrzej Duda, and since then his position within PO has gained weight.
On Wednesday evening, Trzaskowski told the private TV news channel TVN24 that he was ready to run for PO chairmanship if Budka resigned.
"Borys Budka is probably ready to step down from the Civic Platform chairman post," Trzaskowski said. "If he's really considering stepping down as PO leader, I'm ready to take responsibility for the Civic Platform."
Budka, Tusk and Trzaskowski are set to meet on Thursday to discuss a new strategy for the party and perhaps a change in its leadership, ahead of the party's National Council meeting on Saturday.
PO spokesman Jan Grabiec confirmed on Thursday that the three politicians are to meet later in the day, but declined to provide any further details.
"They are serious politicians and they will certainly hold a serious talk about the future of the Platform," Grabiec said told reporters in parliament.
There have been rumours that Budka may step down on Saturday, and when speaking about the timing of potential changes, Grabiec said that "the issue must be resolved within the coming days."