Presidential campaign: Polish top opposition candidate promises to rebuild ties with EU
Poland should rebuild ties with the European Union, do more to fight climate change and spend millions of dollars on healthcare, the main opposition challenger in May's presidential elections told hundreds of supporters on Saturday.
Polls suggest Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, of the centrist Civic Platform party, would be just behind incumbent nationalist President Andrzej Duda if the second round of the vote was held today.
"I will be seeking friends not enemies for us, I will rebuild true partnerships with the EU and the United States," she told a rally in Warsaw.
"Our children are suffocating from smog and our government, instead of investing in clean technologies, invests in Russian coal and does not allow Poles to use European green money."
Run-off very likely
Her rival Duda is allied to the ruling eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party which has clashed with Brussels over migration, climate change policies and other issues since coming to power in 2015.
It has also introduced judicial reforms which EU officials say may breach the bloc's standards on the rule of law. PiS says changes are needed to make courts more efficient and move the country on from its communist past.
PiS won a second term in October on the back of promises to raise living standards and make hefty social handouts.
But it lost control of the upper house, the Senate. The Senate can delay bills but only the president can block them -- a fact that has raised the political stakes for May's presidential vote.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, a member of PiS, gave a speech on Saturday accusing Kidawa-Błońska's Civic Platform party of failing to deliver on policy promises in the past.
According to opinion polls, Kidawa-Błońska would lose the first leg of the election scheduled for May 10, as the large number of opposition candidates have diluted her support. There are six candidates running for president's office.
But polls suggest she would be just 2 percentage points behind in the second, decisive leg of the vote two weeks later.
No more Poland of contempt
"We have one goal - to end Poland of contempt and to start writing a new chapter, on Poland of dignity" - Robert Biedroń said on Sunday at a rally in Warsaw. The Left's presidential candidate promised decent pensions, wages, affordable housing and legal abortion up to 12th week of pregnancy.
Biedroń was convincing that Poland was "full of contempt, like never before". "Every day the media report on more hospitals being closed, more wards are being shut down, (...) nurses and doctors must take to the streets to remind they are saving our lives" - he said.
"From church pulpits we hear a priest who insults, we hear a bishop who incites hatred, and we see a government that fails to react" - said Biedroń.
Calling upon voters to choose the Left as it is "stable in views and principles", Biedroń also promised Poland would "finally become open and tolerant", and it would "finally be green and ecological".
Switch in Russia policy
During a rally on Saturday in the southern city of Rzeszów, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz from the conservative agrarian Polish People's Party (PSL) called for a rethink of Poland's policy towards Russia and a resumption of small cross-border traffic between Poland and the Russian region, Kaliningrad.
"One has to rethink policy towards Russia... This dialogue has to start with human relations, with small cross-border cooperation," he said.
Relations with Russia have deteriorated under PiS.
For years, Kaliningrad residents enjoyed a special permission to travel back and forth across the Polish border. But Poland suspended that pact in 2016, citing security concerns.
Poland has long been one of the strongest supporters within the European Union of maintaining sanctions against Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Social movement ahead
Independent candidate Szymon Hołownia announced last week that he would launch his social movement in the coming weeks. "We're launching a social movement. This movement really works" - he told TVN24. He also reassured that many people were involved in the project.
"There are thousands of people who are really active in 16 cities, also on county and municipal levels. (...) I will gladly tell more about it within the next few weeks, because now we are working on building structures of the movement" - Hołownia said.
He stressed he was not building a political party, but a social movement. "However, it will be present in politics, it needs to be politically ballasted" - he added.
He stressed that the movement would be established regardless of the result of his presidential run. He added he wouldn't like dash his supporters' hopes.
"The only true right-wing candidate"
The far-right Confederation presidential candidate Krzysztof Bosak declared on Saturday in the city of Płock that he would fight to make his way to the second round of the election. He pledged at the same time that, as president, he would speak with all political factions.
Bosak said he would be "the only true right-wing candidate" in the upcoming election. He criticised President Andrzej Duda claiming that he "uses huge amounts of patriotic rhetoric, but actually promotes a programme having nothing in common with right-wing ideals".
In his opinion, socio-economic programme of the incumbent president has social-democratic character. "In my view, when it comes to economy, President Andrzej Duda is a left-wing candidate, whereas in his worldview, ideology, he is a centrist candidate at best" - said Krzysztof Bosak.
He also said he not only believed in achieving good result based on voters holding conservative, libertarian, nationalist and patriotic views, but also that it was possible to win such election in Poland.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters, PAP