Challenges Waiting for Tusk

Jan Thomas van Ieperen: Allegory of hope // Public domain

When no one was waiting, Tusk decided to return.

As long as the Joker rules Gotham City, Batman cannot retire. As long as Kaczynski is in power, the empty seat across from him is for Tusk. Such are the rules of the story. The audience may complain about reruns and sequels but eventually they line up for tickets.

What challenges will Tusk encounter? Poland has changed a lot during his absence. Much more than one might think judging by press reports or occasional meetings with supporters. Tusk’s former comrades refuse to acknowledge this. If Tusk becomes a hostage of their phobias and expectations, he will be doomed to failure.

Tusk is associated with the post-crisis era, lack of funds for social spending, and extension of the retirement age. The propaganda of TVP turned him into a German collaborator. Consequently, Tusk won’t find support in the Polish provinces. He has become, like it or not, the pet of the salons and intellectuals.

There is no sense in winning the conservative supporters of Law and Justice over. For them the former prime minister is the devil incarnate anyway. The hope for the opposition is that they will choose Holownia or, disheartened, they will stay at home. It does not mean that the folks who do not like the Law and Justice have completely turned their back on Tusk. Nevertheless, he will have much more limited reach than during his previous victorious campaigns.

The Law and Justice governence has also aroused the opposition not only to the practice of their rule, but also to the conservative-right hypocrisy, which is mostly related to the Catholic Church. Mass protests in defense of women’s rights, outrage at pedophile practices and their cover-ups by the hierarchy, growing support for civil partnerships, a secular state, and abortion on demand are a social fact.

Today, the ideological obtuseness that allowed the Civic Platform (the centre-right political party) to remain coherent is not an option for 20-, 30- and 40-year-olds waiting for unequivocal declarations.

There is no chance to win over the Law and Justice without mobilization of the electorate that is impatient with the politicians’ passivity and cowardice. Elections are won with emotions and mobilization which cannot be provided by the party focused on suppressing expressive views.

It is no coincidence that it was liberal Rafal Trzaskowski who came closest to defeating the Law and Justice. These are not whims prevalent in some big-city niches. This is an objection to the entire ideological model, in which the government claims the right to look into the bed of citizens and does not want to take its hand out of their pockets.

Whoever wants to represent modernity will also be able to mobilize these layers of political energy in a non-radical way, and also to appeal to ecological and urban issues. Tusk mentioned in his speech global warming, minorities and women’s protests (which met with great applause), which is a good prognosis for the future.

Tusk has repeatedly shown that he has an ear for social issues. If he wants to return to power he will not campaign from the wars he won a decade ago.

The article was originally published in Polish at:

Translated by Natalia Banas

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