Poland's Tusk reaches for big-hitters in European election fight

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visits Warsaw

WARSAW (Reuters) - Three ministers from the largest party in Poland's government will stand in European parliament elections, officials said, as Prime Minister Donald Tusk urged Poles to vote in a ballot he labelled one of the most important in decades.

The elections in June provide Tusk's Civic Coalition (KO) with another chance to cement their place as Poland's dominant political force after they failed to knock nationalist rivals Law and Justice (PiS) off the top spot in local elections this month.

PiS were the largest party in the local elections and in a general election in October, though they lost their majority to a broad pro-European coalition led by Tusk that vowed to reverse democratic backsliding, boost the rights of women and minorities and repair ties with Poland's Western allies.

With war raging across Poland's eastern border in Ukraine, Tusk told his party that there was no room for complacency regarding the upcoming European Parliament elections, which often fail to capture the imagination of voters.

"These elections to the European Parliament are one of the most important in the post-war history of Poland," he said.

"They have never been so important and never had such a radical impact on our everyday lives as they do now, during the war, during threats that Europe did not even think about a few years ago."

Tusk said that Interior Minister Marcin Kierwinski would stand in the European elections. State Assets Minister Borys Budka and Culture Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz, responsible for sweeping changes to state media under Tusk, also feature on the list of candidates.

The announcement of their candidacies sets the stage for a potential reshuffle in government in which other departments could also see a change in leadership.

"Today, the European Union needs tough realism and defence of Polish interests by people who are credible and believe in Europe," Tusk said.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Pawel Florkiewicz, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; editing by Christina Fincher)