WARSAW - European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday he would not run for president of Poland, dampening the expectations of some opposition supporters that he would challenge incumbent President Andrzej Duda in an election next year.
"After careful consideration, I decided not to run for the upcoming presidential election," Tusk told reporters in Brussels in a televised statement broadcasted by TVN24.
"I think we can win these elections, but you need a candidate free from the baggage of unpopular decisions, and I am burdened with such baggage," Tusk said, referring to times when he was Poland's prime minister.
Tusk's centrist Civic Platform governed Poland from 2007 to 2015, when the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party won general elections, and its ally Duda became the president of the biggest former-communist EU country.
The 2020 presidential elections are the last chance for the opposition in the current election cycle to block the PiS from further reforms that have changed Poland from a country lauded for its swift transition to Western standards to one accused of undermining democratic standards.
PiS won elections in October but lost the majority in the upper house of parliament, the Senate, that has a power to delay new bills and appoint a senior figures.
According to an October poll conducted by Ipsos pollster for oko.press portal, Duda would get 44% of votes, while the opposition's strongest candidate - Civic Platform's Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska - has a 25% support.
To win a presidential elections a candidate has to exceed 50% of votes, so in such circumstances the result would be settled in the second leg of the race, where the opposition candidate could fight neck-and-neck with Duda.