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The Warsaw Voice » Other » February 6, 2008
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Chair of the Year Goes to Donald Tusk
February 6, 2008   
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The parliamentary election campaign that ended recently was exceptionally long. Some say it lasted two years, that is for the entire two years the Law and Justice (PiS) party managed to stay in power before cutting short its term in office and calling an early ballot.

The election campaign centered around two parties: the opposition Civic Platform (PO) and the ruling PiS, while the key players were the leaders of the parties, Donald Tusk and Jarosław Kaczyński. Everyone else merely played a supporting role.

The two men differed in their vision of Poland and of how to govern. Their public clashes were intense and heated. It was a public spectacle and everybody was drawn in. The country was ablaze with debate, and not only during the innumerable political rallies. Probably even more heated debate was being waged in front of television sets in homes throughout the country. After all, rallies were only attended by supporters of one political party, while families watching as events unfolded on television were often polarized in their political views. They argued passionately.

After an exceptionally high election turnout of almost 54 percent, Tusk won the elections with 209 seats in the 460-seat Sejm, the lower house of the parliament, and 60 seats out of 100 in the upper house, the Senate.

The Warsaw Voice has decided to give the Chair of the Year 2007 to Donald Tusk not because he won, but because of how he won and why he won.

I remember Tusk from almost 20 years ago, when as a young activist he took his first steps in politics and in public administration. "Meet the future prime minister," a friend said to me as she introduced us to each other. I thought she was overdoing it.

When I look at Prime Minister Donald Tusk today, I can see how much he has changed and also how much he has stayed as he was. I see a mature, tough politician who perceives what the big problems are facing the country and society, and I see a vigorous man who has not lost his energy and sensitivity. I see a leader who is ready to face obstacles and carry the burden of responsibility and I see an ordinary man who has not lost touch with other ordinary people. He is ready to understand their problems and he is ready to play soccer with them.

Donald Tusk did not head into the 2007 elections as if he was going to war. He did not promise victorious battles. What he promised was normality. Normality in Poland and in international relations. He promised respect for people, including for his opponents. He understood what was important. A sense of security and stability.

In return, his party got the backing of over 41 percent of adult voters, over 7.5 million votes. We have decided to give him the Chair of the Year 2007 award because without a doubt Donald Tusk was a key influence in our lives over the past 12 months.

Andrzej Jonas

Donald Tusk (PO)-Prime Minister

Born April 22, 1957 in Gdańsk. Graduated from the humanities department of Gdańsk University with a major in history. Student activist and founder of the Independent Students' Association (NZS) in Gdańsk.

Helped found the Liberal-Democratic Congress (KLD) party after the changes of 1989. Party leader 1991. Elected to parliament as a KLD candidate that year. Deputy chairman of the Freedom Union (UW) party formed from the 1994 merger of the KLD with the Democratic Union (UD). Resigned from the UW 2000. Founded the Civic Platform (PO) party with Andrzej Olechowski and Maciej Płażyński 2001. Served as deputy speaker in the Sejm where PO was the largest single opposition party after the 2001 elections. PO chairman since June 1, 2003.

Lost the second round of the presidential elections to Lech Kaczyński Oct. 23, 2005 with 46 percent of the vote.

Elected to parliament as a representative for the Warsaw electoral district in the election of Oct. 21, 2007, polling 534,000 votes (46.62 percent), the best individual result in parliamentary elections since 1989.

Sworn in as prime minister of the PO and Polish Peasants' Party (PSL) coalition government Nov. 16.

Married with a son, Michał (born 1982) and a daughter, Katarzyna (born 1987).
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