WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Monday he wanted to fight for another term in office, quashing speculation that he was preparing a bid to take over as the next European Commission President.
Tusk has strong pro-European credentials and had been seen by many officials in EU capitals as a leading candidate to replace serving Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso when his term ends in 2014.
But he told Polish public television channel TVP2 he intended to lead his Civic Platform party to victory in parliamentary elections in 2015.
“I decided that I want to remain Polish prime minister and that until 2015 I will engage only in domestic issues,” he said.
“I’m aware that some opportunity has appeared, but when I weigh what’s important for me as a man, I will not experience any greater honor, satisfaction, than that of the role of prime minister. To be a Polish premier is 100 times more important for me than any European promotion,” he added.
Tusk has established a good working relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has committed to taking Poland into the euro zone and has won plaudits for the prudent way his government has used EU development funds.
In a radio interview last week he said he would be a “good candidate” for the job of Commission president, local media reported, but he would not say if he planned to seek the job.
Tusk’s commitment on Monday to stay in Polish politics for now will help draw a line under a period of uncertainty inside his own party. Several leading figures have been jockeying for position to take over if Tusk departed for Brussels.
However, his choice to stay comes with risks.
His party’s popularity has slumped over the past year as the global downturn has finally reached Poland, eastern Europe’s biggest economy. Opinion polls show his party has been overtaken by the conservative opposition Law and Justice Party.
Tusk aides have said privately in the past that he may still move to a job in Brussels after the next election, but they did not specify what role it would be. By that time, Barroso’s replacement will already have been chosen.
(Reporting by Adrian Krajewski- Writing by Christian Lowe- Editing by Andrew Heavens)