Internal elections to decide who will be the next leader of Poland’s ruling Civic Platform (PO) party could wrap up on August 23 if one of the two contending candidates wins over 50 percent support in the first round of voting. Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who has led PO since 2003, is favored to defeat his rival, former Justice Minister Jarosław Gowin.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk (left) and former Justice Minister Jarosław Gowin (right)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and KPRM
PO’s 40,000-plus members are all entitled to take part in the election and were able to cast their votes online until August 6. Over a quarter (27.69 percent) of PO’s members eventually voted online. Correspondence voting will be concluded on August 19.
Mr Gowin is the first politician to openly challenge Mr Tusk for leadership of the party, which has ruled Poland since 2007. During the campaign, Mr Gowin accused Mr Tusk of abandoning PO’s original center-right, pro-business ideals in order to become a “social democrat.” He said the party needed to “go back to its roots.”
As the PM’s popularity tanked at the beginning of the summer, Mr Gowin initially looked to be a formidable challenger. A July SMG/KRC survey revealed 36 percent of Poles believed he would be a better leader for the ruling party than Donald Tusk, while 28 percent said the PM was the best possible leader for PO.
However, Mr Gowin’s campaign fizzled out after a brief buzz and he often cut a lonesome figure at meetings with party members where he tried to win their support. Mr Tusk meanwhile toured the country equipped with the trappings of power and surrounded by supporters every step of the way.
Therefore, the speculation now is not over who will win the battle for leadership of Civic Platform, but rather over what will happen to Mr Gowin after the vote. Several high-ranking PO politicians, including Sports Minister Anna Mucha, have already suggested that Mr Gowin is “out of the party” thanks to his harsh criticism.
There has been widespread media speculation that after the election, Mr Gowin will quit PO to form his own party. Mr Gowin has already thrown his hat in with a group of socially conservative politicians hailing from a variety of different parties. The members of the group, which is not a party though many suspect it could soon become one, have dubbed themselves “the Republicans.”
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