Tusk returns to Polish politics with attack on government

Tusk became leader of Civic Platform (PO), the main opposition party, on Saturday morning following the resignation of Borys Budka. Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

Donald Tusk, the former prime minister, has announced his return to Polish politics with a stinging attack on the governing Law and Justice party and its leader Jarosław Kaczyński.

Tusk became leader of Civic Platform (PO), the main opposition party, on Saturday morning following the resignation of Borys Budka.

Addressing Donald Tusk, Budka said earlier: "Let me hand over to you the leadership of the Civic Platform. I want you to lead us to victory."

Following an announcement that Budka had resigned from his post and that former prime minister Ewa Kopacz and MEP Bartosz Arłukowicz had also resigned as party deputy heads, PO MP Jan Grabiec said that Tusk and Budka had been elected party deputy heads.

"From now on, Donald Tusk will be performing the duties of the party leader," Grabiec added.

One of Poland’s most successful politicians and a PO co-founder, the 64-year-old Tusk served as prime minister from 2007-14. After leaving Polish politics he became president of the European Council before becoming head of the European People’s Party, the largest bloc in the European Parliament.

“Today evil rules in Poland, and we are going to fight this evil,” he told the Civic Platform national committee.

“President Kaczyński and PiS comrades should today say ‘I’m, sorry’. They have robbed of us our security, and Poland is alone as it has ever been in decades. PiS implements Russia’s agenda 100 percent of the time.

“I get furious when I hear about what they do because the evil that PiS does is so evident, shameless and permanent.”

Tusk also said that he has decided to return to the domestic political scene because PO is a team of absolutely special people.

"I have returned '100 percent' because you are a team of truly special people," said Tusk. "I can work with people, who really want to do something good."

Admitting that he has been participating in political life since the 1970s, Tusk praised his former party colleagues saying that despite the fact that "everybody has their own ambitions and aspirations," PO was a party of people who were not guided by their own interests.

"I have met here something... which has given me faith that I will be able to work with people, who really want to do something good, and who are not being led by their own interests," he said.

PO hope his return will rejuvenate a party that has been in the doldrums for a number of years owing to a string of defeats inflicted by Jarosław Kaczyński’s Law and Justice, the party’s bitter foe.

Critics have accused it of being unable to offer an original alternative to Law and Justice, and of only trying to feed off its opponent’s flaws.

Tusk’s return will renew his rivalry with Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Law and Justice and a man with whom he has enjoyed a turbulent relationship.

The returning politician regards Kaczyński as reactionary nationalist with an inward looking political philosophy that is detrimental to Poland. In turn Kaczyński views his old foe as a self-serving politician whose loyalties lie with the EU elite rather than Poland’s interests.

Kaczyński’s animosity towards Tusk was made evident in his reaction to the news that his old opponent will return to Poland.

“As far as I know his position, to put it mildly, is not very strong. Mr Tusk’s lack of passion for hard work and his German-centricity is not to everyone’s tastes,” Jarosław Kaczyński, was quoted as saying by the newspaper Gazeta Polska.

Adding to the tension between the two is Kaczyński’s belief that Tusk is in some way responsible for his brother’s death in the Smolensk air disaster of 2010.