The leader of Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) party has called for the ruling coalition to unify behind President Andrzej Duda in his bid for reelection, as new polls give the incumbent only a small lead and rumours persist of divisions within the government.
“President Andrzej Duda will only win the election if everyone works selflessly for his success, rather than seeking benefits for themselves,” Jarosław Kaczyński – who despite holding no formal state role is Poland’s de facto leader – told Gazeta Polska, a right-wing weekly.
Kaczyński emphasised that politicians should put aside their “own ambitions” and “plans to expand their structures”, an apparent allusion to PiS’s two junior coalition partners, United Poland (Solidarna Polska), led by Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, and Agreement (Porozumienie), headed by Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin.
The parties and their leaders have not always seen eye to eye, and the two smaller partners strengthened their position in October’s elections, when they doubled their share of seats in parliament at the expense of PiS.
The next month, Agreement refused to support PiS’s proposal to abolish the upper limit on social security (ZUS) contributions from high-earners, leading the government to scrap the policy.
Earlier this month, Gowin admitted that the government’s judicial “changes have not translated into an improvement in the functioning of courts”, adding that he would have “taken a different path” to Ziobro.
In extracts from Gazeta Polska interview – the full version of which will be published on Wednesday – Kaczyński called for the ruling camp to put aside such differences and pursue their shared interests and those of their supporters.
The United Right, as the coalition is known, should feel the “pressure of the desires of its supporters, which is obvious: the reelection of Andrzej Duda and the finishing of reforms”, said Kaczyński, alluding to the judicial overhaul that has drawn protests at home and tension with international partners.
Kaczyński’s motivation for giving the interview – his first since the launch of Duda’s reelection campaign on 15 February – may have been recent polls that show the incumbent facing a strong challenge from his rivals.
While Duda is still on track to win the first round of voting convincingly, in the second round (a run-off between the top two candidates), three polls published over the last week show him only narrowly ahead (and in one case slightly behind) his three main challengers, Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz and Szymon Hołownia.
New poll with large sample (8000) shows Duda winning 1st round of presidential vote but very close in run-offs:
Bosak 25.5% https://t.co/ienF3InkSz
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) February 16, 2020
Main image credit: Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta
Maria Wilczek is deputy editor of Notes from Poland. She also contributes regularly to The Economist and Al Jazeera, and has also written for The Times, Politico Europe, The Spectator and Gazeta Wyborcza.