And they're off! Presidential race in Poland has begun

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TVN24 News in English, PAP
Andrzej Duda and his rivals in presidential run
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Andrzej Duda and his rivals in presidential run

On Wednesday (February 5th) afternoon, a resolution by the Sejm Speaker Elżbieta Witek scheduling presidential election on May 10 was published in the Journal of Laws. Thereby, the presidential campaign was officially commenced. According to polls, the incumbent president Andrzej Duda, backed by his former party - the ruling Law and Justice (PiS), stands the best chance to win and be re-elected. His opponents, however, claim that in politics one can never be sure of anything, and pledge to fight to win over the hearts of voters.

The first days of 2020 presidential campaign saw the incumbent president Andrzej Duda firmly declaring his re-election bid. Mr Duda said at a rally in Lubartów: "I strongly care to keep the development of Poland, that's been going on so well in recent years, to keep it going further. I would also like the current government, that in my opinion very skillfully governs Poland (...), to continue the mission it's been entrusted to carry out, and to prepare good legislation that would be accepted by the president, as we share the same programme".

The president underscored his belief in the justice system reforms pushed through by the ruling party. "There are many important things do ahead of us. It's necessary to wisely and appropriately finish the reform of the justice system - this is a fundamental issue".

Kantar poll showing support for presidential candidatesKantar for "Fakty" TVN and TVN24

Andrzej Duda's decision has been hailed by many prominent members of PiS, such as PM Mateusz Morawiecki, former PM and current MEP Beata Szydło, and the Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro.

Mr Morawiecki said at an event on Wednesday that "Andrzej Duda is a guarantee that struggle for freedom will continue".

The latest high-profile decision taken by President Duda was signing court reforms bill into law on February 4th. The adoption of the law sparked

Main opponent

Civic Platform's (PO) candidate in the upcoming election is Deputy Speaker of the Sejm Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska. She was chosen in the party's primaries in January. Her only opponent was Mayor of Poznań Jacek Jaśkowiak.

Last year many experts predicted that former chief and founder of Civic Platform Donald Tusk would run for presidency as his term as the President of the European Council had come to an end. To the disappointment of his supporters, former Polish prime minister announced that he wouldn't challenge Andrzej Duda in 2020, and instead decided to take over the chairmanship of the European People's Party.

Presidential run-off poll by Kantar for "Fakty" TVN and TVN24Kantar for "Fakty" TVN and TVN24

Mrs Kidawa-Błońska is an outspoken critic of the current government, especially of the reforms of the justice system. Among her priorities she lists the necessity to appoint the new National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) and "verification" of Julia Przyłębska's appointment as the head of the Constitutional Tribunal. The PO candidate says she wants to be a president "uniting" Poles. She also expressed her readiness to face the current president Andrzej Duda in a debate, but only in case they have managed to make it to the second round of this year's vote.

"The situation in our country cannot last any longer and I treat May's election very seriously, as the resident of the Presidential Palace must be changed" - Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska said at a rally in Wiry near Poznań on Wednesday.

"Only one for civil partnerships"

The Left has chosen former Mayor of Słupsk as their candidate in the 2020 presidential election. Mr Biedroń is the leader of his home-party Wiosna (Spring) and an MEP. He was officially approved as Democratic Left Alliance and Wiosna's presidential candidate in mid-January.

In his appearances, Mr Biedroń stressed the need for improving health care and education systems. He is also a strong supporter of state and church separation, gender equality and affordable housing. In an interview for Polish Press Agency, he backed the idea of shutting down of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) and shifting the fight against corruption onto the police.

Robert Biedroń - the first openly-gay lawmaker in Poland - has co-operated with Polish and international LGBT rights organizations for many years. He participated in the first Gay Pride ever organized in Poland on 1 May 2001. That same year he co-founded the Polish Campaign Against Homophobia organisation.

"There is only one presidential candidate in Poland who will definitely sign the law on civil partnerships, and it most certainly isn't Andrzej Duda" - Mr Biedroń said earlier this week.

Robert Biedroń at a conference in front of Presidential Palace in Warsaw
TVN24

"Pact for Poland"

The chairman of Polish People's Party (PSL) Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, backed also by Kukiz15 with which they form the Polish Coalition, has also announced he would run for presidency. He announced his bid in mid-December 2019 in Zakopane, during his nationwide tour.

Among his priorities, Mr Kosiniak-Kamysz listed the need for health care system reform. He also announced he would lay out a set of his ideas he branded "Pact for Poland". Furthermore, he declared he wouldn't back liberalisation of the anti-abortion law.

"As president of Poland I will present a comprehensive reform healing the justice system" - Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz said on Saturday. He also called upon justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro to face him in a debate on judiciary.

The leader of PSL has also vowed firmly to impose an embargo on Russian coal imports, and promised to increase EU subsidies for Polish farmers to the level of those from France and Germany.

Counter-revolution underway

The last candidate from a grouping having seats in the current parliament is Krzysztof Bosak, who has been elected in a series of primaries in Confederation Freedom and Independence. In the final round, Mr Bosak defeated his main rival Grzegorz Braun.

After winning the primaries, he stressed that economic freedom and private ownership would be at the centre of his platform. He also criticised the current government for "indebting the state". Krzysztof Bosak also mentioned the following issues as key in his campaign: traditional values and protecting of national interests. "Chairman Janusz Korwin-Mikke said a counter-revolution was needed, both at home and outside across whole Europe, for our civilisation to survive" - Mr Bosak said and added that "Confederation is the force that today starts the counter-revolution".

He also stressed that Confederation is a "force of united conservatives, freedom movements, national, traditional, monarchist, and independent social groups".

Independent candidate

An independent candidate, journalist and columnist Szymon Hołownia has also announced his bid for 2020 presidency. He named former journalist Michał Kobosko as the chief of his campaign.

Mr Hołownia also appointed General Mirosław Różański as his staff member, responsible for coordinating the group on national security and Armed Forces command. The candidate picked former journalist and financial analyst Piotr Kuczyński as his chief economic advisor.

Szymon Hołownia has announced his start in the election at a meeting with supporters in the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre. He declared at the time his vision of a "friendly separation of church and state". In his speeches he also announced appointing a commissioner for animal rights and stressed the need for a non-partisan president.

"I hope I will make my vision of Poland real, which is a common home to PiS supporters, PO supporters, to Confederation and the Left" - Szymon Hołownia stressed. His campaign is to financed by crowdfunding.

Independent presidential candidate Szymon Hołownia
TVN24

The first round of presidential election has been scheduled for the 10th of May. In case of a run-off, it will take place exactly 2 weeks later on the 24th of May.

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Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP

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