Tusk’s Tasks

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Centrist politician Donald Tusk was nominated as Poland’s new prime minister this week, ending eight years of right-wing rule by the Law and Justice Party (PiS) that saw relations with the European Union deteriorate, the loss of judicial independence and restrictions on reproductive rights, the Washington Post reported.

Tusk’s nomination follows the October elections, which saw his multi-party alliance secure a parliamentary majority, vowing to restore Polish democracy and rebuild ties with the bloc.

Polish President Andrzej Duda – an ally of PiS – had initially selected the conservative party to form a new government. But on Monday, outgoing Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki failed to secure a vote of confidence in parliament.

That cleared the way for lawmakers to vote in Tusk as the next prime minister.

Even so, analysts predict that the centrist leader will now face a formidable set of challenges in altering eight years of PiS policies, noting that Duda could derail the passing of legislation until his term ends in 2025.

A key goal for Tusk is to secure the release of billions in grants and loans that the EU has been blocking while Poland contested the supremacy of EU laws, as well as permitted political interference in the appointment and disciplinary processes of judges.

Meanwhile, Tusk has also promised to transform public television, a vow that will face obstacles, including overhauling the regulatory bodies established by PiS to restrict press freedoms. Restoring independence to public media may require legal changes, which Duda could block.

During the campaign, Tusk also pledged a social revolution, aiming to address issues, such as the previous government’s anti-LGTBQ stance and women’s rights.

In 2020, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal criminalized abortion under almost any circumstances, prompting mass protests against the PiS administration.

While Tusk has promised legislative changes that would allow abortion up to 12 weeks, women’s rights advocates say they want more expansive laws protecting reproductive rights.

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