Monday, February 13, 2012

Donald Tusk

Donald Franciszek Tusk (born 22 April 1957) is a Polish politician who has been Prime Minister of Poland since 2007. He was a co-founder and is chairman of the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) party.

Tusk was officially designated as Prime Minister on 9 November 2007 and took office on 16 November. His cabinet won a vote of confidence in the Sejm on 24 November 2007. He is currently the longest serving prime minister of the Third Republic of Poland. In October 2011, Tusk's Civic Platform won a plurality of seats in the Polish parliamentary election, meaning that Tusk became the first Prime Minister to be re-elected since the fall of communism in Poland.

Tusk began his public career as an activist in his home town of Gdansk, supporting Solidarity and organizing his fellow university students. With the exception of one four-year stretch, Tusk has served in the Third Republic parliament almost continuously since its first elections in 1991. He was Vice Marshal (deputy speaker) of the Senate from 1997 to 2001 and Vice Marshal of the Sejm from 2001 to 2005. He also served as Leader of the Opposition from 2003 to 2007.

Studies and Personal Life
Tusk was born in Gdańsk. Tusk's father, also named Donald Tusk (1930–1972), was a carpenter. Donald Tusk's mother, Ewa Tusk (1934–2009), was a nurse. His uncle, Bronisław Tusk (1935–2000), was a sculptor from Gdańsk. His grandfather Józef Tusk (1907–1987) was a railway official who, as a former citizen of the Free City of Danzig, was compulsorily drafted by German Nazi authorities into the Wehrmacht on 2 August 1944. He deserted a few months later to join the Polish Army in the West on 24 November 1944.

Donald Tusk belongs to the Kashubian minority in Poland. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in December 2008, Tusk compared his own family history to the Jewish experience, describing the Kashubian minority as a people who, "like the Jews, are people who were born and live in border areas and were suspected by the Nazis and by the Communists of being disloyal".

Tusk graduated from the Mikołaj Kopernik (Nicolaus Copernicus) High School in Gdańsk in 1976. He then enrolled as a student of history at the University of Gdańsk, from which he graduated in 1980 under professor Roman Wapiński with an M.A. thesis on Józef Piłsudski.

Donald Tusk and his wife, Małgorzata, have two children: a son, Michał (b. 1982) and a daughter, Katarzyna (b. 1987). He also has one grandson, Mikołaj (b. 2009) by his son Michał. They reside in Sopot near Gdańsk.

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