Polish parliamentary speaker Ewa Kopacz appointed new premier to succeed Donald Tusk

Poland's president on Monday appointed the parliamentary speaker to be the next prime minister and gave her the task of assembling the new Cabinet.

Ewa Kopacz, 57, will succeed Donald Tusk, who resigned as government leader after being chosen to head the European Council, starting on Dec. 1.

She will head the center-right coalition Cabinet until parliamentary elections in the fall of 2015. A pediatrician by education, Kopacz will be the second woman at the helm of Poland's government under democracy. She said she will form a "good government."

Polish media are speculating that Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski will take her place as parliamentary speaker, the nation's No. 2 most powerful position. The move would be expected to help the ruling coalition in next year's presidential and parliamentary elections. But it would take Sikorski off the international political scene, where he has been very active.

President Bronislaw Komorowski said he believes that Kopacz will have the government under control, just as she had parliament under control.

The new Cabinet should be known this week and sworn in by Komorowski on Sept. 22. A parliamentary vote of confidence is expected at an extraordinary session on Sept. 27.

Strong-minded and full of energy, Kopacz has been among Tusk's closest political associates and advisers, allowed to be much more critical than the others.

She was a member of parliament from 2001 until 2007 when she became health minister and is still remembered as one of very few ministers in Europe to have decided against buying the swine flu vaccination, because she saw no real danger of an epidemic. She was praised for saving government money.

Kopacz is divorced and has a daughter and a grandson.