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FACTBOX-Polish PM Donald Tusk

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 3 Oct 2011 08:37 GMT
Author: Reuters
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WARSAW, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk's ruling centre-right Civic Platform (PO) is still tipped to win a second consecutive term when Poles vote in a parliamentary election on Oct. 9, although the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) has narrowed the gap.

For more on the Polish election, click:

Here is some more information about Tusk:

* He is rated the most popular of Poland's political party leaders in opinion polls, thanks mainly to his success in steering the country relatively safely through the 2008-09 global financial crisis. Poland was the only country in the 27-member European Union to avoid recession during the crisis.

A mild-mannered pragmatist with the common touch, Tusk, 54, has eschewed radical economic reforms and has tried not to scare Poles with talk of austerity even as his government struggles to rein in a large budget deficit.

* Tusk's PO won the 2007 parliamentary elections on promises to pursue liberal market reforms and improve relations with Poland's key neighbours, Russia and Germany, and with the European Union after ties with the bloc became strained under his predecessor, the more nationalist-minded Kaczynski.

Tusk has disappointed financial markets as well as many younger, more liberal voters by not delivering on market reform. His government also proved more conservative than promised on social issues like 'in vitro' fertilisation (IVF), abortion and same-sex couples.

* Tusk unexpectedly lost the 2005 presidential election to Lech Kaczynski, Jaroslaw's identical twin brother who was killed in a plane crash in Russia last year. The 2005 defeat was a lesson in humility for Tusk who learned to become much more cautious about his prospects in subsequent elections.

This time Tusk has said either PO or PiS could win. He has also said it will be his last term as prime minister if PO is re-elected. Polish parliaments are elected for four years.

* Tusk, a historian by education, has a tight grip over his party and so far none of its rival factions has been able to contest his position.

Tusk is also adept at reacting to the popular mood in Poland. He always shows up in areas struck by natural disasters, does not avoid meetings with angry voters and has spoken out strongly against a range of groups including lobbyists, paedophiles, gamblers and soccer hooligans.

* A native of Gdansk, on Poland's Baltic seaboard, and a strong local patriot, Tusk was involved in the pro-democracy Solidarity movement that first emerged in the port city and helped trigger the collapse of communism in 1989.

He is a keen soccer fan and has two grown-up children. Tusk's daughter, Katarzyna, became a minor celebrity after taking part in the Polish version of the "Dancing with the Stars" programme and she runs a blog on fashion and cuisine. (Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Gareth Jones and Philippa Fletcher)

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