On May 10, Poland goes to the polls to choose its next president. The clear favourites are Andrzej Duda (Law and Justice) and Bronisław Komorowski (supported by Civic Platform), and they are likely to be the only candidates in a second round two weeks later. But, for the time, being Poles have 11 potential presidents to choose from.
Whether you’re in Poland or out, and whether you can vote or not, the Polish president is one of the most powerful people in one of Europe’s largest and most importantly-positioned countries, and this election is important. Anthony Casey provides facts and analysis, along with the candidates’ statements about themselves from the recent televised debate.
|Position: Conservative right.
|Key points: Strongly in favour of a Catholic, traditional Poland, with family values underpinning the nation’s future prosperity.
|Current job: Journalist
|Chances: Negligible. Andrzej Duda is the clear leader in the Conservative right field. Mr Braun has not managed to garner 1% in any opinion poll conducted so far.
|In his own words: I say “no” to Poland in a Polish-Ukrainian war. “No” to Jewish claims. “No” to the sale of Polish land. I would like to return to Poland this emblem, the eagle from the time before freemasonry stifled it. And here Mr. Komorowski’s absence is a good sign, because we want the disappearance of people like him from Polish public life.
|Party: Law and Justice (PiS – Prawo i Sprawiedliwość)
|Position: Conservative right.
|Key points: Likely to be the favourite in Kraków, because of his family’s strong position in the city. Duda is the son-in-law of poet Julian Kornhauser.
|Current job: MEP
|Chances: Almost certain to go to a second round run-off with incumbent Bronisław Komorowski. His opinion poll high was 31%, in March.
|In his own words: I want to make a commitment that, if elected, I will, within a year, prepare send to parliament acts that are important for Poles to live in dignity and security. The first law will lower the retirement age, the second will increase the level of tax-free earnings, so that in Polish family budgets there will be more money. If I do not, I will resign.
|Party: Polish People’s Party (PSL – Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe)
|Position: Conservative centre
|Key points: Mr Jarubas’ party supports strong health and welfare systems, along with state financial intervention in the agricultural sector. Christian conservative on social issues.
|Current job: Marshal of the Świętokrzyskie regional council.
|Chances: The best he has managed in the opinion polls was 5.1%, in March. So not great, but unlikely to come last.
|In his own words: I come from a small town, Błotnowola in the Świętokrzyskie region. My parents are farmers. Like most Poles I am proud of my roots. I want generational change in Polish politics, to raise the ethos of everyday hard work on Polish soil, as well as in local government. I want to be an active president who cares about the good name of Poland and the Polish people. Who unites rather than divides, for whom security issues are paramount. I take part in order that Poles do not vote against someone or something, but “for” understanding and “for” Poland.
|Party: None (funded and support by Civic Platform – PO, Platforma Obywatelska)
|Position: Liberal right.
|Key points: Has recently come under fire from opponents in the media, after a series of embarrassing gaffes during speeches. Most notably, he declared that Poland’s resistance movement was responsible for the deaths of Poles, who were in fact killed by the post-war occupying communist authorities – against whom the resistance was fighting.
|Current job: President of the Republic of Poland
|Chances: Almost certain to go to a second round run-off with opposition candidate Andrzej Duda. His support has so far been highest of all the candidates, reaching 65% in a January opinion poll.
|In his own words: [Mr Komorowski declined to attend the televised debate.]
|Position: Populist right.
|Key points: Maverick. Thrown out of his own former party (New Right Congress) when it emerged that he had fathered a child out of wedlock. Once protested against high taxes in Poland by eating his tax return in public.
|Current job: MEP
|Chances: With an opinion poll high of 7% (January), Mr Korwin-Mikke is likely to finish somewhere in the second tier, behind the favourites Komorowski and Duda, but ahead of Braun, Wilk and similar.
|In his own words: You know how it is, but you think you are wrong, because the political thieves on TV are telling you that you are not right. Why do tens of thousands of people come to me? Because I hear your suspicions, and I will not spin fairy tales. Together we make policy changes. There are millions of us who know the truth… Enough with the platitudes that we want a good Poland in order to live better. The time for words has passed. Either we change Poland to become normal, or the last one out should turn off the light.
|Party: National Movement (Ruch Narodowy)
|Position: Nationalist right
|Key points: As far right as politics is allowed to get in Poland. Was once spokesman for the National Radical Camp, a small but vocal group that appears anti-everything that’s not white, male and Polish.
|Current job: Body builder
|Chances: Mr Kowalski got 2% in a January opinion poll, but generally fails to get more than half that level of support. Last, or close to last.
|In his own words: I am 50 years, and my entire life I have worked for a living. My policy is to make my own money. I am chosen by the National Movement. This group is a new political force. It is the voice of young boys murdered in [sports] stadiums, of universities persecuted for having questioned the European Union disorder. I’m the one who knows that entrepreneurs fall under the weight of ZUS. Those who went bankrupt did so because they were founded in chains. I am the voice of those for whom there is no place in Poland. Ordinary Poles. I have always stood in their defence.
|Position: Centre democrat
|Key points: In the week leading up to the first round of the election, Mr Kukiz is being hailed by the Polish language media as the ‘dark horse’ of the race. The key point of Mr Kukiz’s manifesto is electoral reform.
|Current job: Singer, actor
|Chances: Not as bad as might appear for an independent, and support is rising. He scored 6% in two April opinion polls, and may be the ‘protest vote’ candidate of choice.
|In his own words: My name is Paweł Kukiz. I am one of millions who have enough ‘partyocracy’, the role of serfs in the ‘neoaristocratic’ party system. I regret that the president is not among us. This indicates the arrogance of the current government. I will strive to overcome ‘partyocracy’, change the electoral law, restore the state to the citizens, and call a nationwide referendum on the obligations of the authorities.
|Position: Socialist left
|Key points: Originally backed and funded by the post-Communist SLD party (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej – Democratic Left Alliance), she is Ms Ogórek is now independent. The SLD say they paid the campaign fees that they had agreed – but there has so far been no clear statement as to why the party no longer wants her.
|Current job: News presenter
|Chances: Close to zero. She got 8% in January and February opinion polls, but she has never been taken seriously by political pundits, due to her age and inexperience, and her credibility is constantly called into question.
|In her own words: I take part in order to show that women too can fight. This campaign proves that women can break through glass ceilings. I do not want a Poland that dooms young people to junk [work] contracts, I want young people to have worthwhile representation, so that the state helps them into the housing market and they do not have to live with their parents for 30 years. The economy needs to be liberated, entrepreneurs need help, tax law needs to be rewritten. I want equal rights for women and freedom of worldview for citizens.
|Party: Your Movement (Twój Ruch)
|Position: Liberal left.
|Key points: Likes to make his point graphically. Such as waving a gun and a sex toy about to demonstrate his considered opinion on PiS, waving a pig’s head about to demonstrate his allegations of corruption in the Polish football authority, and threatening to wave a cannabis cigarette about in parliament in a bid to get soft drugs legalised.
|Current job: MP
|Chances: Polled 7% in March, but usually around the 2-3% mark. Poland isn’t ready for such open liberalism yet. Maybe in ten years time… or maybe not.
|In his own words: We Poles need a modern and friendly state. We do not have that, so millions of our compatriots leave the country. You just heard the nine state conservatives. It doesn’t matter which of them wins this election, because nothing will change in terms of a modern and friendly state. Not the Church, not the funding of partnerships or social policy promoting women, not in vitro, or renewable energy sources. It will be as it is. Therefore, the choice is simple: It is either me, and progress, or stagnation. I am an entrepreneur who over the years has created jobs and struggled with the bureaucracy. And I know what needs to be done to make more jobs.
|Party: Direct Democracy (Demokracja Bezpośrednia)
|Position: Liberal centre
|Key points: Mr Tanajno set up his own party with the goal of pushing an agenda of open democracy, and electoral and political reform.
|Current job: Businessman
|Chances: Doesn’t even register on most opinion polls. Might beat Marian Kowalski. Might.
|In his own words: Who is Paweł Tanajno? Most of you who ask yourselves this question are now seeing me for the first time. That’s the state of democracy in Poland – the media can hide a candidate, as if he did not exist. Those who want to make a difference are not shown. I am the father of four children, an entrepreneur, I run a foundation to help children abandoned by their parents. I’m not a politician. As an ordinary citizen I have had enough of political mess and inefficient administration. That is why I am a candidate. Through my candidateship I also want to encourage compatriots to write a joint letter to parliament. I know how ordinary citizens can defeat politicians. You too can become a deputy. Without you, nothing can succeed.
|Party: New Right Congress (Kongres Nowej Prawicy)
|Position: Liberal right.
|Key points: Mr Wilk represents a party that promotes a classical market-driven programme as the cornerstone of national governance. There’s no room for ‘people’ in his model.
|Current job: Lawyer
|Chances: An also-ran. Just about made 1% in a March opinion poll.
|In his own words: I take part because I love the motherland and my children and I want the best for them. And in Poland it is going wrong. You cannot stand aside when things go wrong in your house. Our motherland is a sick country sick. Those who have governed our country for 25 years have not fixed our country, because they showed that they cannot. Only people like me, who are outside the system, can do so. I was born in a small village, I did all right, I know the problems of ordinary people. I know what to do to so that Poland once again becomes a country for young people.
(Exclusively for the Krakow Post via Inside Poland)