Poland’s Tusk is unfit for office 

Donald Tusk speaks after he was elected as president of European People's Party during the European People's Party (EPP) congress in Zagreb, Croatia, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
4 Min Read

The former Polish prime minister and the leader of the left-liberal opposition movement, Donald Tusk, was the politician who pursued an investigation in relation to the notorious “Waitergate” scandal that rocked Polish politics in 2014. However, the testimony of a key witness in the case is coming back to bite him and may even destroy his prospects of reelection in Poland.

The scandal is called “Waitergate” due to waiters surreptitiously recording top Civic Platform politicians making a number of scandalous claims and comments inside restaurants, with the contents of these conversations later leaked to the press.

It was a major blow to Donald Tusk at the time, who was not recorded, but whose party was targeted by the secret recordings. Now, the way he has handled the entire matter has seriously discredited him. When he read the Newsweek story that the witness had testified the Russians had bought the illicit recordings of top liberal government politicians, he straight away accused the present ruling party of having colluded with the Russians to bring down the liberal government and demanded a special parliamentary commission to investigate the matter.

However, he did not check the facts or where this story might lead. Now, years later, it turns out that in the testimony, Tusk’s own son is implicated as being a go-between in a bribe that was to be given to the liberals.

It is not impossible that this whole affair could actually stop Tusk’s ambition to become prime minister once again dead in its tracks. Does a politician who commits such errors deserve the trust of his colleagues on the opposition benches, and can he really lead them to victory? It is inevitable that doubts will resurface and young leaders such as Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, leader of the Polska 2050 movement Szymon Hołownia, and Polish People’s Party leader Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz may now be less willing to recognize Tusk as an inevitable choice for future prime minister. 

The whole affair is also likely to throw an uncomfortable and unwanted spotlight on the opposition liberals from Civic Platform (PO). We know that Tusk found this witness credible with regard to allegations of Russian involvement in the Waitergate scandal, and now that same witness testified that top liberal politicians were the subject of sizeable bribes. His testimony means there will have to be an investigation into such allegations, including how they received money in plastic bags. This is how Poland’s liberals received illicit funding from the Germans back in the 1990, and there are lot of allegations of corruption against prominent former PO minister Sławomir Nowak already.

This whole affair must be investigated properly — no shortcuts and no assumptions of guilt. Furthermore, there should be no selective journalism of the kind offered by Newsweek, which onlly reported the Russian angle of the testimony. It is time for the liberal establishment media to stop protecting Tusk. They must cover all aspects of this affair, not just the allegations of Russian involvement. 

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