Tusk: choosing the right presidential candidate of "absolutely strategic importance"
We're facing four years of PiS government. In order to stop PiS cabinet from doing harm, a force of presidential veto is required - said the outgoing President of the European Council Donald Tusk. He stressed that finding the right candidate, who would stand a chance to win presidential elections, is of "absolutely strategic importance".
Donald Tusk commented on Wednesday on parliamentary elections in Poland and the next year's presidential vote.
"Speculation on who would run in the presidential election and when has already begun. This issue is of "absolutely strategic importance".
"We're facing four years of PiS government. In order to stop PiS cabinet from doing harm, a force of presidential veto is required. This is a fundamental, strategic question - whether or not Poland will waste four years, or will Poles and political elites, by wisely choosing presidential candidate, force those in power to at least avoid making mistakes internationally, and above all, at home," Donald Tusk said.
"For me, the most important thing is choosing a candidate who would stand a chance to win presidential elections, a candidate who would know how to convince those who vote on our opponents, those who for some reason vote for PiS or hesitate between one option or the other. This should be a joint effort by all those who voted for the new majority in the Senate, in the last elections," said the chairman of the European Council.
"Not quickly, but wisely"
Tusk stressed that "it's not about choosing such candidate quickly, but wisely".
"This can be discussed. By talking to people, experts, political parties, and by doing research. There are dozens of methods to make an optimal choice," he said.
Tusk also added that "procedure of choosing the right candidate should be aimed at maximizing the chances to win". "If I'm a man who could convince those hesitating - I don't know. I wouldn't be so sure, and I would welcome with no regrets other interpretation suggesting that there are other candidates, maybe arousing less enthusiasm, but who would in the end gain more on that side which will actually decide who wins the election," he said.
"There are some names"
The European Council President argued that "certainly there are some names people place their hopes in". Asked if he plans some form of pre-election in the opposition, that would elect a joint candidate, Tusk replied that "it's not his role" to decide on such things.
"There are people on the spot who will be taking decisions," he added.
"I'm not proposing any procedure, any pre-election. On one condition, that it would be a joint consideration, a wise consideration backed by a wise expertise which would provide us with an answer. Sooner than you think, although there's no need for haste in taking such decision," Tusk argued.
"I have a positive opinion about my work for Poland, but if I had been told that someone else stood a better chance to convince the hesitating, I would have absolutely accepted it and I'm really not ruling out that such verdict is the most likely one," former Polish PM added.
The most effective candidacy
Asked by TVN24 if he would consider running for president, Tusk said: "If such unanimous will appears, to jointly build a candidacy having best chances to win, no one should hesitate".
"Please do not draw personal conclusions referring to me," he asked. "I listing all this criteria not to invite more people asking "will Tusk run or not". Honestly, it's not my intention," he underscored.
"I would like everyone to understand that it's not journalists or party calculations that will decide, but first and foremost, the best chance to win," he added.
"I think that on today's Polish political scene there are at least a few people who have at least the same, maybe better, chances to convince those undecided. It seems quite clear to me," Tusk said.
He added that "it's worth for everyone to join this task in order to choose the best possible candidacy".
"I'm not a candidate, that's not the message I wanted to conyey to you," he told journalists.
"I think it's too early to say that presidential campaign has already begun," said former Polish PM. "It would have been a mistake. We haven't constituted the Sejm and the Senate yet, at the moment Polish political scene is in turmoil, we still have nearly half a year," he added. According to the constitution, presidential election should be held in May 2020.
EPP chairmanship proposal
Tusk was also asked if he would become the chaiman of the European People's Party, after he had ended his term as European Council President (the term ends on December 1).
"I did receive such offer and many leaders within the EPP have been encouraging me to stand at the helm of the party," he answered. "It's possible that it will be so," he said adding that the decision would be made in November.
At the same time he stressed that "being involved in the EPP, unlike leading the European Council, does not exlude being involved in local affairs". "And I'm not talking about presidential election, but generally about my return to active involvement in public sphere in Poland," he underscored.
"The possible chairmanship of the EPP will not stop me from being fully involved in Polish affairs," Donald Tusk reassured.