The re-election of Andrzej Duda as president, by the narrowest of margins, shows Polish liberals must find a way to reconnect with non-urban voters
To understand what was at stake in Sunday’s cliffhanger presidential election in Poland, it is worth rewinding a few days to an interview with Jaroslaw Kaczyński, the chairman and éminence grise of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS).
Mr Kaczyński, who was prime minister of Poland in the mid-2000s, was not standing in the contest himself. But he still calls the shots in PiS, whose preferred candidate, Andrzej Duda, has been re-elected as president by the narrowest of margins. Speaking to an arch-conservative Catholic radio station, Mr Kaczyński warned that Mr Duda’s liberal opponent, Rafał Trzaskowski, lacked a “Polish soul”. The evidence, he said, was Mr Trzaskowski’s unpatriotic willingness to even consider Jewish restitution claims in relation to the second world war. He went on to hint at a need to “repolonise” sections of the media partly under foreign ownership. And, emphasising a running theme of Mr Duda’s successful campaign for re-election, Mr Kaczyński predicted an opposition victory would see Poland capitulate to an “LGBT offensive”, corrupting the minds of the young.