Poland's Tusk named prime minister

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WARSAW, Nov 9 (Reuters) Polish President Lech Kaczynski named political rival Donald Tusk as prime minister today after Tusk's centre-right party won a parliamentary election with promises of better EU ties and economic reform.

Tusk will replace the president's twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski, whose conservative Law and Justice party came second in the October 21 vote. Tusk is due to present his cabinet and be formally appointed next Friday.

The 50-year-old historian has vowed to pursue liberal economic policies and take the ex-communist nation of 38 million back into the European Union mainstream after two years of rocky relations under the nationalist Kaczynskis.

He also said he would seek to improve difficult relations with Russia as long as Moscow reciprocated.

Despite presiding over fast economic growth, the brothers have alienated many urban, young Poles with their social conservatism, scepticism about Europe and uncompromising style.

Tusk's Civic Platform has pledged to accelerate economic reforms needed to bring Poland into the euro zone in 2012-13.

''I would like to promise Poles today that Poland will be liberal and socially equitable,'' Tusk said after being named. ''I count on cooperation in this task with all institutions, particularly with Mr. President.'' But analysts say the Civic Platform and its small coalition partner, the centrist Peasants' Party, might struggle to implement bold reforms, such as a flat rate of income tax, because the president could veto their plans in parliament.

VETO President Kaczynski has already threatened to wield his veto to stop ''liberal'' legislation. He defeated Tusk in the 2005 presidential election after labelling his rival as a liberal who would cater only to the rich.

The coalition lacks the three-fifths majority to overturn a presidential veto unless it wins the support of a leftist opposition party, which does not back all reforms.

Foreign affairs will be another area of difficult cohabitation with Kaczynski, whose term ends only in 2010.

The president has the right to represent Poland abroad and shares responsibility with the head of the government at EU summits and in ambassadorial appointments.

The two men have already aired differences over key foreign policy issues such as whether Poland should continue its military mission in Iraq or sign up to the EU charter of fundamental rights.

The Civic Platform promised in the election campaign to bring Polish troops back from Iraq next year. Kaczynski has criticised the rush, saying it would weaken Poland's strategic alliance with the United States.

He also opposes Tusk's plan to sign up to the EU charter, saying it could force strongly Catholic Poland to allow homosexual marriages.

Tusk said he was optimistic for improved relations with Russia, which have been strained over energy issues and a Russian ban on Polish meat imports. Russia also opposes the siting of U.S. missile shield installations on Polish soil.

''I see a real opportunity,'' Tusk said, while adding ''The goodwill must be symmetric and from both sides.'' REUTERS YA KP2229

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