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Poland's PM bows out of presidential race

Donald Tusk says he wants to remain prime minister in order to pass needed reforms.

Tusk had long dwelled on whether or not to run. “I have a serious dilemma,” he said earlier this week. “There is a public expectation that I should be a candidate.”

Now that Tusk, who dominates his party and is the country’s most popular politician, is no longer a factor in this autumn’s election, the race is on within Civic Platform to select a candidate for the presidency.

The likeliest candidates are Bronislaw Komorowski, the speaker of parliament — who updated his image in recent weeks by shaving off his handlebar moustache — and Radek Sikorski, the anglophile foreign minister who spent several years working at a Washington think tank. There are also suggestions that Tusk could choose Bielecki, one of his oldest political allies.

While Civic Platform concentrates on putting forward a candidate, the opposition Law and Justice party is rejoicing that Kaczynski will not have to face Tusk, who holds a significant lead over Kaczynski in opinion polls. Law and Justice leaders have jeered Tusk, calling him a “coward” for not challenging Kaczynski.

But the problem for the opposition is that Kaczynski’s presidency has so far been a disappointment, and polls show him losing against almost every potential candidate. In a rush poll conducted immediately after Tusk’s announcement, the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper found Kaczynski behind Komorowski by 14 to 27 percent.

Although he won’t be running, Tusk is still dedicated to getting rid of Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother, Jasroslaw, a former prime minister and the leader of Law and Justice. “We have to definitively remove the last vestiges of power from those who treat terms such as liberal democracy, free markets and Europe with suspicion,” he said.