Donald Tusk Early Life
Donald Tusk was born on 22 April 1957 in Gdansk, Poland. His father worked as a carpenter on the railway, his mother as a secretary at a hospital. When Tusk was 14 years old, his father died.
In 1976 he started studying history at Gdansk University, where he became involved in illegal activities against the Communist regime. At the time he cooperated inter alia with the underground Free Trade Unions and met the future Solidarity leader Lech Walesa.
Donald Tusk Biography and Profile
Tusk was born 22 April 1957 in Gdansk in northern Poland, the son of a carpenter and a nurse. His grandfather, a railway official, was imprisoned at the Neuengamme concentration camp before being released and joining the Polish Armed Forces to fight Nazi Germany with the Western Allies. Tusk has credited his interest in politics to watching a clash between striking workers and riot police when he was a teenager. He later studied history at the University of Gdansk, graduating in 1980, and was active in the Student Committee of Solidarity, a group that opposed the communist rule of Poland.
In 2001, he co-founded the Civic Platform party, becoming prime minister as leader of the party after the 2007 election. He won re-election in 2011, but stood down three years later to assume the post of European Council president in December 2014. He was re-elected to the post on March 9, 2017. He has two children and is married to Malgorzata Sochacka.
Who is Donald Tusk?
In 1980 Donald Tusk founded an Independent Students’ Association, NZS, which was part of the ‘Solidarity’ movement. He became the leader of ‘Solidarity’ at his place of work and a journalist on a newspaper published by ‘Solidarity’.
After martial law was imposed in December 1981 by General Jaruzelski, he remained in hiding for some time. He then worked as a bread seller and later, between 1984 and 1989, he earned his living as a manual labourer specialising in work at high altitudes with the aid of climbing equipment.
At the same time he was an activist in the underground Solidarity movement. After being arrested for a short time, he was set free following an amnesty for political prisoners announced by General Jaruzelski.
In 1983, Donald Tusk founded an illegal monthly ‘Political Review’, propagating economic liberalism and rules of liberal democracy. An informal think-tank supporting Lech Walesa was centred around the periodical. After the collapse of communism, think-tank members known as ‘Gda?sk liberals’ formed a government after the first free presidential elections in Poland.
Simultaneously they founded the first pro-business and pro-Europe party in Poland, the Liberal Democratic Congress, with Donald Tusk as its leader. He was also responsible for de-monopolising and privatising the former communist state-owned press concern.
In the 1990s, Donald Tusk was a Member of Parliament, inter alia deputy Speaker of the Senate.
In the same years he published a series of books on the history of Gda?sk, some of which turned out to be bestsellers.
In 2001, Donald Tusk was one of the initiators of the new centrist party called the Civic Platform and in 2003 he became its leader.
In 2007, after a tough campaign he defeated the ruling rightist party and became Prime Minister. He was in office for seven years, which made him the longest-serving Prime Minister in democratic Poland, and the first one to be re-elected.
During his seven-year term, Poland continued to maintain economic growth, and in the time of crisis the Polish economy grew by almost 20%, a record performance in Europe.
Donald Tusk’s stance on UK Brexit?
Tusk has previously supported stronger political and economic integration within the EU, backing the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon. He regretted Britain’s decision to leave the EU, saying after Theresa May triggered article 50: “We already miss you.” He was also a strong voice within the EU in favour of allowing Britain to extend article 50 if it asked to do so.
Speaking at the time, he quoted Winston Churchill, saying: “A problem postponed is partially solved”.
In May, he said: “Today the chance that Brexit will not happen is, in my opinion, 20-30 per cent. That’s a lot. Nothing is irreversible until people believe it is.” Tusk has been a strong proponent of the Irish backstop, opposed by some Brexiteers, arguing it is a necessary instrument if a hard border on the island of Ireland is to be avoided.
University of Gdansk (1976–1980), University of Gdansk
President of the European Council
In 2014, Donald Tusk was elected to the position of President of the European Council and in 2017 re-elected for the second mandate of 2.5 years.
Spouse: Malgorzata Tusk (m. 1978). Children: Katarzyna Tusk, Michal Tusk
- Donald Tusk Biography and Profile (Consilium)