On Monday, June 22nd, less than a week before the first round of the Polish presidential election, our colleague Martin Mycielski was a guest on a special edition of the Europa United Eurochat podcast. The episode was entirely focused on the upcoming election, so after a few questions about ODF and our work Martin dove into the history of the office of the President and its former holders, to then give an overview of the current candidates, their views and chances.
A large part of the chat concerned the incumbent Andrzej Duda. Asked if the significance of the role of the President has changed with the PiS representative, Martin replied: “Definitely, but as I mentioned before, it’s rather a diminishing of its significance, as he’s really nothing more than Kaczyński’s puppet. But then reclaiming the office would likely be the beginning of the end for the PiS government, so from that perspective the office’s role is tremendously important, as depending on who wins the election we either continue towards authoritarianism and likely out of the EU at some point, with zero division of power, zero checks and balances so Kaczyński’s unlimited reign, or we get back on track, limit the government’s power and sooner or later have it collapse. And then Poland will surely get back on track and once again be the European success story”.
He continued on to comment on Andrzej Duda’s campaign and his chances: “Well it’s looking more and more bleak I’d say. His polls are down, from March when he had an easy 1st round win with 60% down to under 40% now. His campaign seems to lack any new proposals, any new energy, it’s focused on attacking Trzaskowski, the leading opposition candidate, and Poles I guess are starting to feel the economic fallout of the pandemic so no amount of photo-ops and propaganda in public TV seems to be helping him. Right now in the 2nd round he’s tied with all 3 main counter-candidates or even losing to them.”
The switch from Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska to Rafał Trzaskowski proved a tricky question, as Martin has also supported their campaigns: “Well I don’t want to bad-mouth Kidawa-Błońska, having been a member of her campaign staff, but she was a relatively weak candidate, and her message was very inconsistent in light of the pandemic and holding an election during it, which led to her downfall. Still she will be remembered as the closest we got to the first female president, so there’s that. But the choice to drop her was an expected and obvious move, the Civic Platform was polling at a few percentage points when the May election was cancelled, so they had to make a change, and Trzaskowski turned out to be ideal.”
Next came the questions about the other candidates. First, TV personality Szymon Hołownia and whether he was the Polish Volodymir Zelensky: “I wouldn’t really compare them. Zelensky, whether you like him or not, is largely dependent on oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, so there’s not much independence per se, and he’s an actor, more of a showman. Hołownia on the other hand really is an educated journalist, truly independent, so high hopes for his future.”. He then continued to present the other candidates and finished with a prediction for the election’s result – but for that we invite you to listen to the podcast!