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Polish Politics - Election 2020 President

The first round of the Presidential election was initially set for May 10, with a second round — if needed — two weeks later. All polls showed the frontrunner is incumbent Andrzej Duda from the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS). According to surveys, two main candidates in the presidential race are the incumbent president, Andrzej Duda, backed by the ruling Law and Justice party, and Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska of the main opposition Civic Platform party.

While he looked strong in the first round, Duda was likely to face tough competition from at least three opposition candidates if a second round takes place. Duda’s contenders in the presidential race include centrist Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska; middle-of-the-road politician Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz, leader of the rural-based Polish People’s Party (PSL); leftist Robert Biedron; far-right hopeful Krzysztof Bosak; and celebrity journalist Szymon Holownia.

The rural-based opposition Polish People's Party (PSL) put forward its middle-of-the-road leader Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz as its candidate for the country’s 2020 presidential election on 04 November 2019. Kosiniak-Kamysz said that if someone “more worthy of honour” was put forward by an alliance of Polish opposition parties he was prepared to stand down.

Journalist and television show host Szymon Holownia announced 09 December 2019 a bid to run for Poland’s presidencyr. “At the beginning of next year presidential elections will be announced; I want to run in this race,” Holownia, a celebrity journalist with private broadcaster TVN. He told a gathering in the northern city of Gdansk that Poland’s political system of two warring tribes has reached its limits and that an unaffiliated president was needed “to remedy the situation.” An author of books on religious topics and a humanitarian activist, Holownia argued that his charitable foundations have taught him that “the impossible becomes possible" when “people come to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other rather than just next to one another."

"Let’s make the world a better place an inch at a time," he appealed. Positioning himself as a nonpartisan candidate, Holownia told the crowd: "I humbly ask you to let me be a guardian of our national community." His words were met with a storm of applause, state news agency PAP reported. Holownia, who has no prior political experience, announced his presidential bid a day after two opposition hopefuls faced off in a debate ahead of primaries.

Poland’s opposition Civic Platform party on 14 December 2019 picked deputy parliamentary Speaker Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska as its candidate for the country’s presidential race. At a national convention of the party in Warsaw, 340 delegates voted for Kidawa-Blonska, who is expected to take on incumbent conservative President Andrzej Duda in May. A total of 125 delegates on Saturday voted for Kidawa-Blonska’s rival within the Civic Platform, Jacek Jaskowiak, the mayor of the western city of Poznan. The vote was the last stage of a primary election within the Civic Platform, which is Poland’s biggest opposition grouping, to select a contender. Kidawa-Blonska has presented herself as a moderate, conciliatory figure able to reach out to voters from across Poland’s bitterly divided political landscape.

The head of a new Polish leftist political party on 04 February 2020 said its leading figures would go on a 30-day tour to take their message to voters in 13 cities nationwide. The new party, launched on Sunday, is called Spring, a name it says reflects its aim of bringing a breath of fresh air into Polish politics. The group is led by Robert Biedron, an openly gay politician who was formerly mayor of the northern city of Slupsk. The party’s founding convention in Warsaw on Sunday drew thousands of people, according to reports.

Beata Mazurek, a spokeswoman for Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, described the launch of the party as the start of an internecine war among the opposition. Biedron, an LGBT activist, is advocating the separation of church and state, legal recognition of gay partnerships, greater equality for women, and easier access to abortion, with terminations on demand up to the 12th week of pregnancy. He has also vowed to increase pensions and shut down all coal mines in the country by 2035 in a bid to fight smog.

Poland’s far-right Confederation party on January 18, 2020 chose Krzysztof Bosak to run in the country’s presidential election due in May. 37-year-old Bosak is one of the 11 Confederation members elected to Poland’s 460-seat parliament in October. He previously led the ultra-nationalist All-Polish Youth organization and was one of the founders and current vice-chairman of the far-right National Movement party. Following his nomination at the Confederation's convention in Warsaw, Bosak vowed to adhere to the party’s conservative Christian values and work to promote patriotism, conservatism and economic freedom.

Bosak slammed the “excessive statism” of the current government by stressing that “nationalists do not want to see the nation become a mere appendage of state bureaucracy”. “Nationalists want a strong nation, a nation of free people,” he added. As leader of the All-Poland Youth, Bosak helped organise a controversial march on Poland’s independence day that has been repeatedly denounced by Poland’s opposition as attracting white nationalists and neo-Nazi groups. Confederation has support of some 8% of potential voters, polls show.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda vowed 10 March 2020 not to hold large public gatherings as part of his re-election campaign to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Speaking after a meeting with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski and Chief Sanitary Inspector Jaroslaw Pinkas, Duda said: “I have made the decision that I will not be holding any large meetings in connection with my presidential campaign.” He added that his rallies usually drew hundreds of people. “I am very grateful for that,” he said, as quoted by state news agency PAP, “but … it seems that the risk the coronavirus might spread as a result of this is too big, and I do not want to put people at risk.”

Poland’s presidential elections should be held in May as scheduled, despite a coronavirus outbreak, the leader of the country’s ruling conservatives said 21 March 2020. “We can’t say that we are postponing elections just because for some reason we think that this should be done. There must be constitutional premises,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski said in an interview with private radio broadcaster RMF FM.

Opposition politicians had called for the ballot to be postponed, arguing that the outbreak of the coronavirus has hampered election campaigning. They also claim that holding the elections in May would give incumbent President Andrzej Duda an unfair advantage because Polish media outlets regularly highlight his efforts to combat the coronavirus epidemic. According to the Super Express tabloid, a survey has found that 70 percent of Poles believe the country’s presidential elections should be postponed. Meanwhile, 12 percent opposed such a move and 18 percent did not voice an opinion, the newspaper reported.

But Kaczynski told RMF FM that Duda had lost out most amid restrictions on large public gatherings in Poland. No one draws people to meetings like Duda, Kaczynski said. In a move to contain the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic, the government banned public gatherings of more than 50 people.

As Poland neared the presidential election set for 10 May, the main opposition candidate has called for a boycott of the vote. The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has so far refused to delay the polls. On 28 March 2020, the government changed the election rules to allow people aged 60 and over, those in quarantine, and those in self-isolation to vote via post. "If ... those in power persist in this stubbornness, they must know that they bear full responsibility for the terrible effects on the lives and health of citizens," opposition candidate Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska wrote in an open letter on Sunday. Incumbent President Andrzej Duda, who allied with the PiS party, was considered a favorite to win the vote.

For Poland's election on 10 May 2020 polling stations remained closed and turnout would be zero, due to a political crisis set off by the coronavirus pandemic. The EU member of 38 million people found itself in a "Twilight Zone" in which the presidential ballot was formally neither postponed nor cancelled, because the government and opposition were unable to agree on a constitutional and safe solution. The PiS and its allied Agreement party announced that the poll would be declared null and void after the fact. "After the May 10, 2020 date passes and the Supreme Court annuls the election as expected in light of the fact that the vote will not have taken place, the speaker of parliament will announce a new presidential election for the first available date," they said in a statement.

An exit poll showed the conservative Polish president, Andrzej Duda, with the most votes in Poland’s presidential election on Sunday 28 June 2020, but short of the 50 percent required for an outright win in the first round. If the poll is confirmed by official results, Duda will face centrist Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski in a runoff on July 12. According to the projection by the Ipsos polling firm, Duda won 41.8 percent and Trzaskowski 30.4 percent in Sunday’s vote. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. Poland’s state electoral commission has said it would release the final official results by Wednesday 01 July 2020.

Whether Duda ultimately won a second five-year term in two weeks’ time would determine whether the ruling nationalist party that backs him, Law and Justice, kept its near-monopoly on political power in Poland. The party has been in conflict with the European Union over laws that have given it control over top courts and key judicial bodies, something the 27-nation bloc has denounced as an erosion of democratic European values.

Duda could have a more difficult time in a runoff given that many opposition voters would be expected to unite against him. The candidate with the third most votes according to the exit poll was Szymon Holownia, a TV personality and journalist who had once studied to be a priest. He was projected by the Ipsos poll to have 13.3 percent. Holownia is unaffiliated with any party and generated enthusiasm among some Poles tired of years of bickering between Law and Justice and Civic Platform, the country’s two main parties. Most of his supporters have said in surveys they would back Trzaskowski in a runoff.

Duda prevailed in the 2020 election’s first round with 43.5 percent of the vote, with Tzsaskowski finishing second with 30.46 percent, setting the two up for a run-off 12 July 2020. A poll released by Kantar and cited by Euronews shows the two candidates in almost a dead heat. The re-election of government ally Duda is crucial if the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party is to implement further its socially conservative agenda, including judiciary reforms the EU says contravene democratic standards.

PiS cast Duda as the guardian of its generous welfare programs, which have helped it win national elections in 2015 and 2019, and of its pledge to protect traditional family values in predominantly Catholic Poland. A win by Trzaskowski could undermine the fragile majority PiS has in parliament, and force Morawiecki to govern as a minority cabinet, or even face an early national election.

Based on a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2019, roughly half of Poles (47%) said homosexuality should be accepted by society. This is a relatively low share compared with other EU countries, but it is similar to the median of 46% across Central and Eastern Europe. Support for acceptance of homosexuality is much lower among supporters of Duda’s party than among those who do not favor the party. Only 36% of those with a positive opinion of the Law and Justice party think homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared with a majority (59%) of those who do not support the party.

More than eight-in-ten Poles (84%) have a favorable view of the EU, the highest share among countries in the region. Additionally, about two-thirds (67%) think membership in the union is a good thing for Poland. Views of the EU and its value for Poles have grown more positive in recent years. Between 2018 and 2019, the share of Polish adults with a favorable view of the EU rose 12 points, from 72% to 84%. Poles have also become more likely to see EU membership positively: The share who say that membership in the EU has been a good thing for Poland rose from 48% in 2012 to 67% in 2019.

During his re-election campaign, Duda compared what he calls “LGBT ideology” to Communism. He does not support the right of same-sex couples in Poland to marry or form civil unions, and believes that schools should not teach classes on gay rights. His anti-LGBT rhetoric echoes the comments of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, who in September 2019 said that “the family as we know it is under attack”. In the same month, Marek Jedraszewski, the archbishop of Krakow, linked totalitarian regimes and their “systems for destroying people” with “gender ideology and LGBT ideology”. Duda’s opponent, Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, signed a resolution in February 2019 declaring his city a welcoming place for LGBT people, and attended Warsaw’s Pride parade later that year. He supports same-sex civil unions and has also promised to prevent Law and Justice, which controls Poland’s parliament, from further restricting abortion rights.

Voters in Poland cast ballots Sunday 12 July 2020 within the nation’s razor-close presidential runoff between the conservative, populist incumbent and the liberal, pro-Europe mayor of Warsaw in a battle that displayed deep divisions on this European Union nation. Right-wing Polish President Andrzej Duda has won a new five-year term, beating his liberal europhile rival Rafal Trzaskowski, official results showed. With 99.97 percent of ballots counted, the national election commission said Duda had won 51.21 percent against 48.79 percent for Warsaw Mayor Trzaskowski. The result showed it was one of closest elections in Poland’s history, reflecting the deep divisions in this European Union nation. This could mean an end to an independent judiciary and a further erosion of the separation of powers in the country.

This election has shown once again how divided the country remains. There are strong splits between western and northern Poland — which voted overwhelmingly for Trzaskowski — and southern and eastern Poland — Duda's heartlands. But the divides also run deeply between urban centers and rural areas, between the old and the young.

After Duda's first election in 2015 he was largely unable to step out from under the shadow of his mentor, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who sees conflict as the motor of politics and is not one for seeking compromise with opponents. That's only for the weak, in his opinion.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:05:56 ZULU