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Last Updated: Monday, 22 October 2007, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Profile: Donald Tusk
Donald Tusk
Donald Tusk is an admirer of Reagan and Baroness Thatcher
Donald Tusk, leader of the victorious liberal Civic Platform party, is enjoying sweet political revenge against the conservative Kaczynski twins who defeated him in Polish elections in 2005.

Mr Tusk, 50, is on course for a comfortable parliamentary majority, backed by the centrist Polish Peasants Party as coalition partner - an unusually powerful electoral mandate for post-communist Poland.

During the campaign he put in a particularly strong performance in a head-to-head televised debate with Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski on 12 October.

He attacked Mr Kaczynski's "incompetent" foreign policy, which he said had tarnished Poland's image abroad and harmed relations with neighbouring Germany.

His success at putting the prime minister on the defensive silenced critics who had doubted Mr Tusk's ability to reverse the 2005 defeat. In that year, Lech Kaczynski beat him to the presidency and Jaroslaw Kaczynski's Law and Justice party (PiS) triumphed over Civic Platform (PO) in parliamentary elections.

Halting brain drain

PO wants to woo back many of the more than one million Poles who have found jobs in Britain and Ireland since Poland joined the EU in 2004.

The party plans to lower taxes and reduce bureaucracy in a drive to speed up the pace of Polish economic reform.

Donald Tusk celebrates the publication of exit polls
Donald Tusk celebrates the publication of exit polls

Mr Tusk is a champion of the free market - he ran a small industrial painting business in his youth, at a time when the communist authorities discouraged independent business activity.

According to his friend Jerzy Borowczak, quoted by the AFP news agency, "it was hard work, 16 hours a day, under the beating sun to finish a job by the deadline. Donald knew how to run a company, just as he knew how to be a worker".

Mr Tusk was also active in the Solidarity movement that challenged and eventually defeated the communist regime in the 1980s. He hails from Gdansk - the port city that was the cradle of Solidarity and the focal point of anti-communist protests.

He headed a party that emerged from Solidarity - the Liberal Democratic Congress (KLD) - which pushed for sweeping privatisations. He later became a founder of PO, which entered parliament in 2001.

Mr Tusk belongs to the small Kashubian community - a Slav minority concentrated in the Gdansk region.

In the run-up to the 2005 elections it emerged that his grandfather had served briefly in Hitler's Wehrmacht - apparently as a conscript. That fact is believed to have influenced some voters negatively.

Mr Tusk married his wife Malgorzata while studying history at the University of Gdansk. They have two grown-up children - a son (Michal) and a daughter (Katarzyna).

The Civic Platform party's victory rally

Country profile: Poland
22 Oct 07 |  Country profiles
Purge overshadows Polish vote
19 Oct 07 |  Europe

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