Thomson Reuters Foundation

Inform - Connect - Empower

FACTBOX-Soccer-loving Polish PM set for new term

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Sun, 9 Oct 2011 20:30 GMT
Author: Reuters
Tweet Recommend Google + LinkedIn Email Print
Leave us a comment

WARSAW, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk claimed victory in a parliamentary election on Sunday and is expected to form a new coalition with his Peasants' Party allies to press on with gradual economic reforms.

Here are some facts about Tusk.

* Tusk, 54, 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, he 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. He said before the election it would be his last term as prime minister if he won.

* Tusk's PO won the 2007 parliamentary election on promises to pursue liberal market reforms and improve relations with Poland's big 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 such as '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 more cautious about his prospects in subsequent elections.

* Tusk, a historian by education, has a tight grip on his party and so far none of its rival factions has been able to contest his position. He is also adept at reacting to the popular mood in Poland. He turns up in areas that have been struck by natural disasters, does not avoid meetings with angry voters and has spoken out against a range of groups including lobbyists, paedophiles, gamblers and soccer hooligans.

* A native of Gdansk, on Poland's Baltic coast, Tusk was involved in the pro-democracy Solidarity movement that first emerged in the port city and helped end the collapse of communist rule in 1989.

* A keen soccer fan, he 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 Timothy Heritage)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

comments powered by Disqus