Birthday: April 22, 1957
Age: 63 Years, 63 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Donald Franciszek Tusk
Born in: Gdańsk
Famous as: President of the European Council
Height: 5'9" (175 cm), 5'9" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Malgorzata Tusk (m. 1978)
father: Donald Tusk
mother: Ewa Tusk
children: Katarzyna Tusk, Michał Tusk
Founder/Co-Founder: Liberal Democratic Congress, Civic Platform
education: University of Gdańsk
awards: Charlemagne Prize
Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana
Order of the Sun
Donald Franciszek Tusk, popularly known as Donald Tusk, is the current president of the ‘European Council.’ Tusk, a politician of Polish origin, has been serving in the position since December 1, 2014. Prior to heading the ‘European Council,’ he served as the prime minister of Poland from 2007 to 2014. He also co-founded and served as the chairman of the political party ‘Civic Platform.’ Since the early 1990s, Tusk has played a leading role in many political reforms and has been active in the formation of many political parties. Tusk headed various departments and designations, before stepping down as the prime minister of Poland to take up the role of the president of the ‘European Council.’ Tusk was interested in history and politics since his childhood. This was quite evident from his education. He married Malgorzata Sochacka in 1978. They have two children: Michal and Katarzyna.
Childhood & Early Life
Tusk was born on April 22, 1957, in Gdańsk, a city on the Baltic coast in northern Poland, to Donald and Ewa Tusk. His father worked as a carpenter, while his mother worked as a nurse at a hospital. His grandfather, Józef Tusk, was a railway official who was imprisoned at the ‘Neuengamme’ concentration camp. He later joined the ‘Polish Armed Forces.’
Tusk is of the German and Kashubian descent. When Tusk was 14 years old, his father passed away. As a teenager, Tusk was fascinated by politics and had a keen interest in watching the clashes between striking workers and the riot police. Later, he enrolled himself at the ‘University of Gdańsk,’ where he studied history. He graduated in 1980
Tusk was an active participant of the ‘Student Committee of Solidarity,’ which was a group that opposed the communist rule of Poland at the time.
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Tusk started his career on a different route when he established the ‘Independent Students' Association’ in 1980. It was part of the ‘Solidarity’ movement. At the same time, Tusk started working as a journalist for a newspaper that was published by the ‘Solidarity’ group. Martial law was imposed in the country in December 1981, forcing Tusk to go into hiding for a while.
Meanwhile, he worked as a bread-seller, and between 1984 and 1989, he worked as a manual labourer specializing in climbing equipments. While working as a manual labourer, Tusk worked as an active member of the ‘Solidarity’ movement, for which he also went to jail. He was set free when the then-Minister of Defense, General Jaruzelski, declared an amnesty for political prisoners.
In 1983, Tusk established a monthly named ‘Political Review,’ an illegal periodical that propagated economic liberalism. This periodical was a major turnover in Tusk's career, as it led him to become the head of the ‘Liberal Democratic Congress.’ As the head, he was tasked with de-monopolizing the former state-operated press.
From there, Tusk's political career took a 360-degree turn, and he was appointed as a ‘Member of Parliament’ (MP) in the 1990s. Meanwhile, he also published a series of bestselling books on Gdańsk and its history. In 2001, Tusk co-founded the political party ‘Civic Platform.’ The same year, he became the deputy speaker of the parliament.
In 2007, Tusk faced a tough campaign and became the prime minister of Poland after defeating the ruling rightist party. He retained the position for 7 years, making him the longest-serving prime minister and also the first to be re-elected for another term, which was a great achievement. In 2014, he was elected as the president of the ‘European Council,’ and in 2017, he was re-elected for a second term, till November 2019.
During his tenure, Tusk made various constitutional reforms. He also made necessary alterations to the domestic policy, the foreign policy, and the European policy. While contesting for the 2007 parliamentary elections, Tusk had promised to streamline the bureaucracy, continue the free-market policies, bring in place a stable and long-term government, cut down taxes, and privatize state-owned establishments.
During his term, his government, however, did not cut down the taxes. Instead, it raised the VAT (value-added taxes) from 22% to 23% in 2011. He also increased the excise duty imposed on alcohol, diesel, tobacco, and coal. He also eliminated many tax exemptions. With Tusk's governance and guidance, the number of people working in the public domain increased considerably.
Internationally, Tusk also worked hard to improve Poland's relations with Germany and Russia, which were severely damaged during the term of the Kaczyński government.
Awards & Achievements
Tusk was awarded with the ‘Charlemagne Prize’ of Aachen on May 13, 2010, for his work toward the unification of Europe. He was also awarded with the ‘Economy Raspberry Award’ by the ‘Puls Biznesu,’ a Polish newspaper. In May 2012, Tusk was awarded with the ‘Walther-Rathenau-Preis’ for his contribution and commitment to the European integration during Poland's presidency of the ‘EU Council.’
Angela Merkel, in one of her speeches, said that Tusk was a “farsighted European.” Tusk was awarded with an honorary doctorate by the ‘University of Pecs,’ Hungary, in December 2017, for his achievements during his political career. He received another honorary doctorate, from ‘TU Dortmund University,’ Germany, for his contribution to European politics.
Family & Personal Life
In 1978, Tusk married Małgorzata Sochacka. They have two children: a son named Michal and a daughter named Katarzyna. Tusk has origins that link him to the Kashubian minority. In one of his interviews with an Israeli newspaper, Tusk compared his origins to those of the Jews, detailing how his community was a minority and mentioning the hardships faced by them.
Though Tusk has been fluent in German while heading the presidency of the ‘European Council,’ he has often been criticized for his poor English and his lack of knowledge of French. However, Tusk did not let the criticism affect him and instead brushed up on his skills. On January 10, 2019, he gave a 7-minute speech in Romanian, marking the inception of the ‘EU Council’ presidency of Romania, for which he received praises.
Donald Tusk belongs to the Kashubian community, a minority ethnic group in Pomerelia, Poland. They speak the Kashubian language, a Polish dialect of sorts, quite different from the actual Polish language.
Tusk had to step down from his post of the prime minister of his country after being elected as the president of the ‘European Council’ in 2014. Not many people know that Tusk has been the longest-serving prime minister of the Polish Republic to date.