Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tusk's political touch on display

Many Polish political watchers said Prime Minister Donald Tusk's courting of popular leftist Bartosz Arlukowicz (pictured, not the dog) was the first step in a potential post-election coalition between Tusk's Civic Platform (PO) and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) with which Arlukowicz is a caucus member. But I don't agree. Rather, Arlukowicz's aisle-stepping jump is proof of Tusk's wiliness and makes the PO likelier to do better in the October elections, thereby making a PO-SLD coalition less likely (if it has any effect at all).

Tusk and Arlukowicz, who is not an SLD party member, announced jointly at a Tuesday presser held in lovely park in Warsaw that Arlukowicz agreed to be a minister to help the "marginalised." The pair hailed this as a breakthrough. Arlukowicz added that he could no longer stomach the SLD voting alongside Law and Justice's (PiS) radical Jaroslaw Kaczynski and that his goal has always been to ensure Kaczynski never takes power again.

Arlukowicz is a fairly new player in the political game, having done a decent turn as a parliamentary investigator in a commission last year. His political capital is thus high. Though his brand recognition is not yet wide, the SLD should have done everything to keep him. He is charismatic. Importantly for a party still tainted by its ex-Communist roots, he is not old or a dinosaur.

But it appears his relative popularity has also made him a threat to SLD leader Grzegorz Napieralski, who obviously decided that an Arlukowicz elsewhere was best for his political prospects and not necessarily the party's.

Tusk's wooing of Arlukowicz, as noted, is adroit. Not only does he remove a threat from the SLD, he adds a possible plus for the PO. Tusk's party has done more poorly among the left of late, particularly after former deputy leader Janusz Palikot left the party. Arlukowicz's presence combined with a track record that can hardly be described as liberal could pay benefits, ensuring a better performance among leftist voters even as liberal ones have nowhere else to turn.

Tusk desperately wants to win the October elections outright and to avoid having to form a coalition with the SLD, who would be a way tougher partner than has been the PO's current partner, the Polish Peasants' Party (PSL). Doing well among leftist voters will only help Tusk meet his dream and will do nothing to improve the chances of a PO-SLD coalition.

1 comment:

  1. PO has been ahead of the ball since the Razem Campaign, not that a party needs to be too sophisticated to enjoy that spot in Poland.