Donald Tusk’s decision not to stand for president was not unexpected given his slim chances of winning office. The incumbent Andrzej Duda is the favorite in the coming election against either Małgorzata Kidawa Błońska or Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, says political scientist professor Rafał Chwedoruk.
Professor Chwedoruk said he is not surprised that Tusk decided not to stand for president of Poland, telling news portal wPolityce.pl that Tusk kept up the suspense of pretending to be making up his mind to keep himself in the public eye and, more importantly, remain a player in Poland’s political scene.
The political scientist thinks that Tusk is now using Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, leader of the Polish People’s Party (PSL), as a weapon in the continuing civil war inside Poland’s biggest opposition party, the Civic Platform (PO).
Tusk hints that his subtle backing of the PSL leader for president was aimed at shaking up the opposition and retaining influence.
Professor Chwedoruk thinks that Tusk’s withdrawal was smart at a tactical level. If PO’s Kidawa-Błońska ends up being the opposition candidate, she is better equipped to draw left-wing voters than Tusk in an election, offering a boost to the opposition.
For the Polish People’s Party, it opens the door for Kosiniak-Kamysz to argue for joint primaries between PSL and PO. It is an interesting development considering it was originally the PSL’s decision to destroy opposition unity after abandoning the “European Coalition” after the last European elections, which featured an alliance of PSL, PO and post-communists.
The academic believes that it is almost certain that there will be two rounds of voting in the presidential election and that the incumbent Andrzej Duda is the clear favorite to win both regardless of who his opponent will be.
The PO’s Kidawa-Błońska can mobilize the liberal electorate and does not generate the negative feelings that Tusk arouses. The PSL’s Kosiniak-Kamysz on the other had has proven himself a vote winner in the parliamentary elections.
At the same time, Kosiniak-Kamysz’s effectiveness could be hampered if he becomes associated with the old liberal-left and the coalition of PO and PSL that increased the retirement age for Poles. For now, Kosiniak-Kamysz is being portrayed as a compromise candidate who has managed to avoid those negative associations.
Professor Chwedoruk believes that Kidawa-Błońska is the safer option for the liberals, as her candidacy guarantees a certain level of support and the preservation of the political status quo of a division between liberal and conservative Poland.
It is hard to gauge whether Kosiniak-Kamysz could win, but the candidacy of this centrist Christian Democratic politician would be more problematic for the liberals and the left.