Tusk and Trzaskowski power struggle could upend Polish politics

Poland’s left-liberal Civic Platform party now must contend with a rivalry between its two biggest politicians

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: tvp.info
Donald Tusk together with Rafał Trzaskowski on "Campus Polska" 2021. (Source: Fb/Campus Polska)

Former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who returned to Polish politics to lead the country’s main opposition party, is now embroiled in a tug of war for control of the Civic Platform (PO) with Rafał Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw who was narrowly defeated for the presidency of Poland in 2020.

With Tusk and Trzaskowski now rivals, each is organizing his own major summer event. Trzaskowski’s pitch will be made at the second edition of “Campus Polska,” while Tusk is organizing “Meet Up” in response. 

Civic Platform members are watching anxiously as the struggle between the two men occupies the party. Some believe Tusk is getting desperate, as he senses that Trzaskowski is waiting to pounce ahead of next year’s election. 

Tusk supporters are confident their man’s event will attract a larger audience. According to them, it is still Tusk who makes the decisions in the party, whereas attaching oneself to Trzaskowski could be risky. Even Trzaskowski’s former campaign manager, Aleksandra Gajewska, has left him and is involved in Tusk’s event. 

The Tusk camp claims that it is Trzaskowski’s ambitious young backers who are turning the Warsaw mayor against Tusk, while Trzaskowski himself is not that committed to fighting the leader of the party.

Trzaskowki’s statement that he is not sure whether he will run for parliament or remain as Warsaw’s mayor was not well received by Trzaskowski’s colleagues at Warsaw City Hall, whose jobs depend on him remaining in office. 

There is speculation that Trzaskowski’s decision on whether to engage in a parliamentary campaign could determine whether the Left party will survive or be pushed out of parliament. It is generally believed that Trzaskowski is someone who attracts left-of-center voters for whom cultural liberalism is most important, and Trzaskowski’s liberal stances satisfy those voters.

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