Poland's president on Monday tasked the current prime minister with a first attempt at forming the new government after the ruling conservatives won an election last month, but fell short of a parliamentary majority.
The Law and Justice (PiS) party emerged first after the October 15 general election, but without a clear majority and with little chance to forge a coalition.
"I've decided to entrust the mission of forming the government to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki," said President Andrzej Duda, who is allied with the conservatives in power.
"If the mission of the Law and Justice party's representative does not succeed, then in the next phase the parliament will choose a candidate for prime minister and I will appoint him without delay," he added, in a televised speech.
Morawiecki thanked the president for trusting him in a post on Facebook.
Opposition leader Donald Tusk's liberal Civic Coalition bloc finished second but together with two minor parties -- the centrist Third Way and the Left -- secured a majority of 248 lawmakers in the 460-seat parliament.
The leaders of the liberal opposition alliance had jointly called on Duda to nominate Tusk.
It is unclear who the PiS, which obtained 194 seats, could govern with as observers note the lack of viable coalition partners.
Tusk, who is a former prime minister and ex-head of the European Council, has accused Duda of "playing for time".
- Frozen EU funds -
He repeated the charge Monday at a rally just before Duda's announcement, once local media had leaked the head of state's decision.
"The president said he would designate Morawiecki... So like I said, they're going to want to steal another couple of days," Tusk told supporters in the southwestern city of Wroclaw.
Tusk argued that the move "will not change anything", suggesting that he himself would ultimately become the head of government.
However, he said the alleged stalling was a shame as time was currently of the essence for Poland: "Every lost day is a loss for our country, a loss for all Poles."
During the election campaign, Tusk had pledged to rebuild ties with the European Union and to unblock frozen EU funds by December.
Last month, Tusk met with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels to discuss the issue.
He insisted his compatriots had shown "that the anti-democratic and anti-European mode doesn't have to be a trend, that it's just seasonal turbulence".
Poland's relations with the EU's governing institutions have plummeted since the PiS came to power due to perceived back-pedalling on democracy by Warsaw.
Brussels had blocked Poland's access to 35 billion euros ($38 billion) in EU Covid pandemic recovery funds because of a standoff over judicial reforms.