Donald Tusk, whom many considered politically finished in Poland, at 66 years old has become the phoenix of the battered opposition to the ultranationalist Law and Justice party (PiS). If he wins the elections, and the polls suggest that possibility, Tusk promises to sit behind the wheel of a steamroller that will shatter the barriers raised to social, civil and political rights by PiS. The leader of that party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, therefore calls Tusk the “personification of evil.”
“Tusk’s goal is the depoliticization of Poland. He is fighting to return to the country he left when he resigned as prime minister to become president of the European Council,” says political scientist Jaroslaw Kuisz. Tusk has not shown any interest in leading a government, but only he can bring about change.
Defamed day and night for the last eight years, accused of being a German agent and even a Russian spy by Kaczynski and his barons, Tusk, convinced Europeanist and liberal of ideashas never shied away from battle when it comes to fighting for ideas.
He was born on April 22, 1957 in Gdansk. His father, a carpenter on the railroads, died when he was 14 years old. His mother was a secretary in a hospital. He studied History at the University of Gdansk, where he became involved in illegal activities against the communist regime. He collaborated with clandestine independent unions and with the future leader of Solidarity, Lech Wasa.
After General Jaruzelski imposed martial law in December 1981, he spent time in hiding. Later he worked as a clerk in a bakery and between 1984 and 1989 he earned a living as a worker specialized in vertical work with climbing equipment, but always as part of the underground Solidarity movement. He was arrested and released after the amnesty for political prisoners proclaimed by General Jaruzelski.