Polish President Spurns Opposition’s Push for Swift Handover of Power After Election Triumph

(Bloomberg) -- Poland’s president will give the ruling nationalists the first shot at forming a government, delaying Donald Tusk’s bid to take power until late December.

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Just over three weeks after Tusk’s opposition secured a solid parliamentary majority in the Oct. 15 election, President Andrzej Duda said he’ll stand by precedent and choose a designate from the party with the most votes – in this case Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki with the Law & Justice party.

The decision dashes the opposition’s hopes for a swift handover of power. Law & Justice’s prospects for forging a government are remote, while Tusk has already claimed victory with a three-party majority that will oust the nationalists after eight years of power and steer Poland back to the European fold.

“If the mission of the representative of Law & Justice were to fail, then in the next step, the parliament will choose a candidate for prime minister,” Duda said in a televised address on Monday. “I will immediately appoint him to this position.”

Tusk’s Civic Platform and two other parties — the Third Way and the Left — will approve their deal to form a coalition on Sunday, Tusk told a rally in the southwestern Polish city of Wroclaw earlier on Monday.

Morawiecki will have two weeks to win the vote of confidence after the new parliament convenes for its first meeting on Nov. 13. It will then be up to the parliamentary majority to propose its candidate for a prime minister.

The zloty was little changed by the announcement, which came outside of European trading hours. Investors, who piled cash into Polish assets in the wake of the pro-EU bloc’s election victory, want a swift transition of power, according to Piotr Matys, an analyst at InTouch Capital Markets Ltd.

As prime minister, Tusk has said his top priority will be to defuse tensions with Brussels and unlock more than €35 billion ($37 billion) funds suspended over rule-of-law concerns.

“The president knows very well that he can only play for time,” Tusk told a rally that ended shortly before Duda’s address. “But it’s a waste of time and a loss for Poland.”

--With assistance from Wojciech Moskwa.

(Updates with Duda comment from the fourth paragraph.)

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