Could Donald Tusk ditch Poland after a year to head up the European Commission?

Polish opposition leader Donald Tusk speaks with reporters after the signing ceremony of a coalition agreement that he sealed with the leaders of other parties, in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, Nov. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
4 Min Read

Donald Tusk, widely considered to be the next prime minister of Poland, could be set to abandon the post to succeed Ursula von der Leyen as president of the European Commission in a year’s time, according to reports circulating in the Polish media.

Broadcaster Radio Zet ran a story, citing sources close to the negotiations over the formation of the new coalition government, that Donald Tusk told his allies the government he was forming may only be for a year, as he may return to Brussels to head up the EU’s executive body.

However, the radio station’s sources claim that Donald Tusk may be bluffing about being interested in heading the Commission and that it is the Polish presidency he may be vying for, but that would also mean him having to leave office early to stand for the job. 

During the election campaign, Donald Tusk said that he wanted 400 days to execute a major clearout with an “iron broom” after which he was prepared to hand over the steering wheel to “people who are of a more delicate disposition.”

According to Radio Zet, those who have been taking part in the negotiations over the formation of the new government have been revealing that Tusk is only planning one year ahead. 

In that year, local government elections will take place in the spring, followed by the European parliamentary elections, after which the new European Commission will emerge from negotiations between the European Council and the European Parliament. 

In the spring of 2025, Poland must elect a new president, as Andrzej Duda will be ending his second and final term as head of state, and key players in the new ruling majority such as Sejm Speaker Szymon Hołownia from the Third Way Alliance, Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, and Donald Tusk himself may be interested in running.

By this time in the autumn of 2024, the new government will have served for a year, candidates will be declaring whether or not they are standing in the presidential elections, and a new European Commission will have been elected. 

It had been assumed that Rafał Trzaskowski who lost narrowly to Andrzej Duda in 2019, would be the candidate for Donald Tusk’s Civic Coalition (KO). However, since the return of Tusk to lead the KO, Trzaskowski can no longer be certain that he can count on anything other than being Warsaw mayor again after the 2024 local elections. 

Tusk’s allies are already briefing that since Trzaskowski intends to run again for the office of Warsaw mayor, he is obliged to fulfill his second five-year mandate in that post rather than stand for the country’s presidency just a year later. 

Having succeeded in ousting the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government and forming a governing coalition, all agree that Tusk now has a very strong hand for both the job of president of the European Commission and the post of Polish president. 

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