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Tusk elected as Polish prime minister

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WARSAW — The Polish parliament has backed Donald Tusk to become prime minister after current leader Mateusz Morawiecki lost a key vote in the country’s parliament on Monday.

Morawiecki’s populist Law and Justice (PiS) party failed to win a majority in October’s elections.

President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, nonetheless nominated Morawiecki to lead the government. His failure to win a vote of confidence paves the way for Tusk to become PM.

In all, 190 MPs voted for Morawiecki’s government, compared with 266 against. The Sejm, the country’s parliament, then nominated Tusk to lead the country.

He is expected to take office this week.

October’s elections saw a coalition led by Tusk win a majority of seats with a record turnout of more than 70%.

The grouping comprises three parties, Tusk’s Civic Coalition (KO), the Third Way and the Left.

Morawiecki’s ruling PiS emerged as the single biggest party after the election, but other parties refused to work alongside it and it was not able to form a majority in parliament.

Duda’s decision to nominate Morawiecki to lead the country meant that the formation of the new government was delayed for several weeks.

Tusk was previously prime minister of Poland between 2007 and 2014, and later European Council president.

The new prime minister will present his Cabinet on Tuesday. Among those expected to be nominated are Radoslaw Sikorski, who previously served as foreign minister under Tusk.

Expectations for the new coalition are high. Tusk has pledged a raft of measures aimed at undoing the effects of eight years of PiS rule.

The new government has pledged to restore the independence of the judiciary, which it says has been systematically undermined under previous administrations.

“We are working… on a whole set of measures that will restore the rule of law as much as possible,” Tusk said.

He has also pledged to unblock €36bn (£30bn) of EU funds earmarked for Poland, which Brussels has refused to release over rule of law concerns.

A 2020 court decision which banned abortion in almost all cases will also be reversed, he said, while protections for LGBT people will be strengthened.

But Tusk may face difficulties in implementing his agenda. Duda’s decision to nominate Morawiecki to form a government without any hope of winning a vote of confidence indicates that the president, who will be in office until 2025, intends to stymie Tusk’s plans.

To become law, bills approved by parliament need to be signed by Duda, who can veto them. Tusk’s coalition does not have enough MPs to override a presidential veto. — BBC

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