Unopposed Donald Tusk Elected President of European People’s Party in a Landslide
In his first remarks, the new EPP leader has criticized Hungary’s Viktor Orban without actually mentioning him.
The outgoing President of the European Council and former Prime Minister of Poland Donald Tusk has been elected President of the European People’s Party almost unanimously.
The European People’s Party Congress in Croatia’s capital Zagreb on Wednesday in effect rubber-stamped Tusk’s election – with 93% of the delegates in favor (491 votes in favor, 37 against) as he had been running for the top post unopposed.
Tusk is due to complete his second 2.5-year-term as President of the European Council, one of the top three bodies of the European Union, at the end of November 2019, when he will be succeeded by former Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.
Tusk is then going to assume his responsibilities as President of the center-right European People’s Party, the largest party family in the EU, as of December 1, 2019. He will be succeeding Frenchman Joseph Daul who has served two terms as EPP President.
The European People’s Party includes more than 70 parties from different EU nations and holds 182 of the 751 European Parliament seats. It has been the largest EU party family in the European Parliament over the past 20 years although it lost 35 MEP seats in the 2019 EU elections, mostly to eurosceptics and greens.
The EPP Congress in Zagreb, Croatia, which elected Tusk as the new President of the pan-European formation, was attended by delegates from 40 European countries.
“We cannot give away the sphere of security and order to political populists, manipulators and autocrats, who make people believe that freedom cannot be reconciled with security, protecting our borders with liberal democracy, and an effective governance with the rule of law,” Tusk tweeted after his election.
“We will not sacrifice values like civic liberties, the rule of law, and decency in a public life on the altar of security and order, because there is simply no need,” he stated in his first speech after his election.
“Someone also worked hard, putting up a fence and billboards with anti-migration propaganda,” Tusk said in an apparent allusion to Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Orban’s Fidesz party was suspended from the EPP in March 2019 over its actions with respect to the rule of law and media freedom, and the center-right European party family still remains split as to how to handle its situation. Fidesz was not invited to the congress in Zagreb after it staged an anti-Brussels campaign with posters in Hungary.
“I’m ready to fight and I hope you are ready too,” Tusk told the EPP delegates.
“I have been with you for over 25 years. You know my good and my bad sides,” he had told the congress before the vote.
Donald Tusk is Poland’s longest-serving Prime Minister since the fall of Communism, and the first to be reelected, in office from 2007 until 2014.
He was born in 1957 in Gdańsk, Poland. As a history student at the University of Gdańsk, he was involved in illegal activities against the Communist regime, and in the 1980s, he was an activist in the underground Solidarity movement led by dissident Lech Walesa.
In the 1990s Tusk served as an MP and deputy Speaker of the Senate. He also published books on the history of Gdańsk.
In 2001, he was one of the initiators of the centrist Civic Platform party, which he led from 2003.
(Banner image: Donald Tusk on Twitter)