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01 December 201716:34

Is Tusk a savior or an "apostle" of Polish politics?

Is Tusk a savior or an "apostle" of Polish politics?
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A 60-year-old Donald Tusk is a multi-faceted politician who plays both in foreign and in domestic politics: the chairman of the Council of Europe, a native of the Polish establishment, and the founder of the former ruling Civil Platform Party in Poland. For seven years Tusk headed the Polish government, but left the post of prime minister in 2014 - he left "for promotion" to the EU bodies. The powers of the CE chairman will end in a year, so experts predict the return of the multitasking politician to Poland
Professor of Political Science of Sussex University (Great Britain), a specialist in Poland Alex Scherbyak does not exclude that Tusk has the intention to lead the opposition in Warsaw. This explains Tusk's attacks on the Polish government on Twitter. By the way, Donald has two accounts: one for publications on behalf of the representative of the European Council, in English, the second in Polish, for the target audience.

Donald-official meets with British Prime Minister Theresa May, discusses Brexit issues. Donald-Polish - likes a dog named Sheriff, is friends with Peter Poroshenko, sees the Kremlin's hand or the strategy of the ruling PiS party in the "sharp dispute" between Warsaw and Kiev, as well as the "isolation" of Poland in the European Union.





In addition, the expert believes that the process of Tusk's successful return to his homeland will be "long and difficult," and can "distract the opposition from creating an attractive political alternative." Shcherbyak writes about this on his personal blog dedicated to the issues of Polish politics.

"His interference occurs at a time when relations between Poland and the political establishment of the EU are at a low level," Shcherbyak said.

The expert concluded this because of disputes between the Polish authorities and the European Commission about the functioning of the constitutional court of the country, judicial reforms of the Polish government. As a result, the European Commission, guided by the principle of "rule of law", began to threaten Warsaw with sanctions, including suspension of voting rights in the European Council, and in October the European Parliament adopted a broad resolution on the rule of law in Poland in order to invoke article 7 of the EU treaty.

"... The Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide to suspend individual rights arising from the application of the Treaties to the Member State concerned, including the voting power of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council," is stated in the art. 7 Treaty on the European Union.

A sanction is possible if, according to paragraph 1 of the same article, one third of the EU member states, the European Parliament or the Council of the European Commission states "the existence of a clear threat of a serious violation by any member state of the values" described in the document (respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities).

"Sharp dispute with Ukraine, isolation in the European Union, departure from the rule of law and independence of the court, pressure on the non-state sector and free media - the PiS strategy or the Kremlin's plan," Tusk wrote on Twitter, that prompted a reaction.



The government in Warsaw accused Tusk of not doing anything to promote national interests in Brussels, and returned to Polish politics when he could not play an active role for himself in the EU.

The problem was this. Warsaw explained that it banned the entry into Ukrainian citizenship, the citizenship of the state supporting "extremist anti-Polish views" was a response to the actions of Kiev. The Ukrainian side created administrative obstacles to Polish experts who were searching for the Poles killed by Ukrainians during the Second World War.

Scherbyak is considered the last step of Tusk especially important, since the Polish opposition alone can not challenge the ruling party. According to polls conducted by the Association of Poles, 43% of voters are ready to vote for the PiS, 23% for the Civil Platform, 10% for Kukiz`15 and 9% for Contemporary.

The return of Tusk to Polish politics will be bad news for the leader of the Civil Platform Grzegorz Schetyna. Despite the fact that he is a wonderful "political operator", the expert is sure, he lacks the charisma of the CE chairman. In addition, his authority is undermined by party staff who want to take his place. According to opinion polls, only 11% would like Schetyna to head the Civil Platform, 52% supported Donald Tusk.

"Although the liberal and centrist opposition has close ties to the political establishment of the EU and the Western opinion-building media, many of whom share a dislike for the PiS, is trying to put pressure on the government by presenting it isolated in such international institutions as the EU turned out to be a double-edged sword. Although the Poles in the overwhelming majority adhere to the views in support of the EU, they also fear that the EU is involved in the internal affairs of the country and criticizes the activities of the opposition, which, in their opinion, can damage national interests," Shcherbyak said.

The fate of Schetyna will be determined by local elections, which will be held in 2018. The ruling party expects to amend the legislation in such a way that in cities where the PiS is not popular, which will contribute to the formation of unions of opposition parties.

The "civil platform", apparently, counts on supporting its candidates for mayors from the weaker opposition parties.

For example, in Warsaw, the candidate from "Contemporary" withdrew from the election in favor of a representative of the "СP". Shcherbyak believes that if the hype surrounding Tusk's return to Polish politics grows stronger, he may "break loose" to Warsaw, leaving the post in the EU ahead of schedule to take part in the 2019 parliamentary elections scheduled for the fall.

Meanwhile, in Warsaw, President Andrzej Douda is concerned about the lack of consensus on the government and PiS. Journalists of the publication "Rzeczpospolita" note that the impression after the last conversation with Duda during the interview is "depressing".

"A high-ranking politician, the head of the armed forces and the face of Polish diplomacy, raises too many questions about powerlessness," journalists write in an article titled "Andrzej Duda is devoid of political background and is concerned about his position in the heavy negotiations with PiS."

We are talking about judicial reforms: Duda vetoed two of the three draft laws after the reaction of the European Union. In September, in order to smooth over the seeming conflict with the PiS, Duda proposed alternative versions, which in Europe were considered "meaningless compromises". That is, some European officials believe that without the application of procedures in accordance with Article 7, the "play" in Warsaw will continue, and Poland will continue to be built in the spirit of authoritarianism.

In Russia, Tusk's statement about the "hand of the Kremlin" and the dispute with Ukraine was perceived as an element of domestic political opposition in Poland. Tusk and the European Parliament assess the PiS's actions as "inadequate" and seek to mobilize the electorate.

"The current authorities of Poland and Ukraine are unlikely to agree among themselves on historical issues. Perhaps, with the advent of mindset government with a different attitude and other attitude to the historical past, they will be able to solve a number of problems. And the contradictions in the assessments of historical events pour into other planes: political, economic and other," said Oksana Petrovskaya, an expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies.

"Wedge" in relations between Poland and Ukraine, the expert believes, is also due to the internal confrontation between the two countries. She recalled that the 11 November march in Poland shocked the world and allowed some journalists to call the country "a fascist state".
Elena Winter Translated by Elena Winter
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