Civic Platform Tries to Speak the Language of Small-Town Poland

Price of bread

Andrzej Pietrasik, Plonsk's mayor, welcomed Tusk in the traditional Polish way with some bread - a staple that has been in headlines recently when Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister and an economist, failed to know the price of a supermarket loaf.

A proud small-town mayor putting provincial Poland in a nutshell, Pietrasik talked about how Plonsk was the birthplace of Israel founder David Ben Gurion and the town is building a facility to highlight Polish-Jewish relations. "We are using European funds to change our town and our lives. Since 2004, we have spent 1,500 euros per inhabitant on projects - there is no public investment without EU money," Mayor Pietrasik said.

What the local leader failed to mention, however, is that Poland's small towns and villages are fast depopulating. These places, typically, suffer from higher unemployment; higher social and economic exclusion; poorer health and education services; and greater problems associated with drugs and alcohol.

Tusk, a former president of the European Council, has been traveling around the country making the point that there is no contradiction between being a Polish patriot and a staunch European - a position in stark contrast to the Europhobic nationalism of PiS.

"True love for Poland begins with the wish for our country to remain in the EU," Tusk told the party conference, standing in front of four flags in the sports hall in Płonsk: the Polish flag, the flag of Plonsk, the European flag, and the flag of PO.

"Our partisan flag is here, as it represents the desire to defend Polish interests, the interests of Plonsk in Europe, and of European interests in Poland," he said.

Ramming his point home, Tusk said he has offered...

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