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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » March 4, 2009
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Piskorski Makes a Comeback
March 4, 2009 By W.Ż.    
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Paweł Piskorski, a former secretary general of the Civic Platform (PO) who was later expelled from the party, has made a high-profile comeback to the Polish political scene after being elected leader of the Democratic Party (SD).

Piskorski, 41, a member of the European Parliament, was elected leader during a Democratic Party convention Feb. 21. He was the only candidate and secured the votes of 99 out of 103 delegates.

In 1999-2001, Piskorski was the mayor of Warsaw and many consider him one of the most successful young politicians of the past two decades. Many observers are surprised at his decision to link his return to politics with the SD, a party with marginal influence. Some predict, however, that the troubles of the present ruling coalition coupled with many disgruntled voters, those who have been backing the PO in particular, may translate into support for the new SD led by Piskorski.

Prior to the convention, Piskorski said he wanted to put an end to the "lethargy and stagnation" in the SD. He said he wanted the SD to be a centrist party promoting economic liberalism and appealing primarily to middle-class voters.

In communist Poland, the SD was a minor party functioning alongside the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR). Following the historic elections of June 1989, the SD had 27 seats in the lower house of the parliament. Later, the party became marginalized with only a handful of deputies in parliament.

The new SD leader has said his party is capable of transforming the political scene, although this will take time. "Our primary goal is the parliamentary election in 2011," Piskorski said.

Speaking in the media, over the past several weeks Piskorski has repeatedly attacked his former party and PO leader Donald Tusk, the prime minister. "As prime minister, Donald Tusk has both successes and failures to his name," Piskorski said. "He has created a party built around him as leader and that pays off, but on the other hand, he has been wasting time devoting too little energy to the economic crisis." Piskorski adds he has long been hearing from his former PO colleagues dissatisfied with this situation.

An important ally for Piskorski and his new party is Andrzej Olechowski, 62, a former foreign minister and finance minister in successive governments. In the presidential elections in 2000, Olechowski won over 17 percent of votes, losing only to Aleksander Kwa¶niewski. In 2001, Olechowski teamed up with Tusk and Maciej Płażyński, a former speaker of the lower house of the parliament, to form the PO. He and the PO subsequently parted ways and recently, Olechowski has publicly declared his support for Piskorski. He does not rule out becoming the SD's presidential candidate in the 2010 elections.
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