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POLAND: Tusk's 4 June Speech

Yesterday Poland celebrated the 30th anniversary of its first partially free election. One of the main political events of these celebrations was the long-awaited speech by European Council President Donald Tusk. Donald Tusk celebrated the anniversary in Gdańsk – the hub of the Solidarity – away from official state events, which took place in Warsaw.

In his speech, Tusk referenced the events, which took place 30-years ago – advising opposition leaders to take an example. He urged the opposition not to prevail – despite losing the European election and the ruling PiS party’s advantages. Unity being what led to victory over communism, Tusk urged leaders not to focus their efforts on bloc competitors. Furthermore, the European Council President pointed out that having good ideas and rules by which to abide is key – a reference to accusations that the opposition did not present a competitive election programme. He also suggested three principles, which the PO-lead opposition should apply: never give up; work hard; and do not exclude.

Opposition politicians and affiliated commentators have been awaiting this speech since February – as a potential announcement of Tusk’s return to Polish politics. Although Tusk provided some direction for the opposition, he did not announce a direct comeback. His appearance should be considered a morale booster – for voters and opposition leaders alike. However, a consensus is beginning to form that the series of appearances Tusk made in recent months, is not working for the European Coalition. Many core PO voters have envisaged Tusk’s return to domestic politics – the lack of a direct declaration results in a loss of political momentum and weariness of the electorate. Still, Tusk’s potential candidacy in the 2020 presidential elections should not be ruled out. However, this will also depend on the available political capital, which will result from the oppositions ongoing efforts – its susceptibility to Tusk’s advice.