Discord on Polish right: Kaczyński and President Duda haven’t talked one-on-one in 4 years

Poland's President Andrzej Duda, right, speaks in the parliament while Jaroslaw Kaczyński, left, listens, Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

The Law and Justice (PiS) leader Jarosław Kaczyński appeared on Catholic “Radio Plus” and was asked about remarks made by Marcin Mastalerek, President Duda’s chief aide, that he and the president had not had a face-to-face meeting in three years. 

Kaczyński replied that the two had not spoken privately to each other “for four years actually,” but insisted that he would not comment on the matter.

“I have adopted the principle that when it comes to the president, I will not comment,” he explained, adding that he thinks that Duda “is a man who has won two elections with our backing and that, despite differences of views, this is most important.”

The PiS leader also refused to say whether he saw any role for Andrzej Duda within his party once the head of state has completed his term in office next year. “This is a matter for the president himself as regards what he wants to do in politics,” he said.

Kaczyński assured that he would not engage in “warfare with President Duda, regardless of what he chooses to do, unless he wants to change his political colors, which I do not believe will happen.” In practice, this could mean that Kaczyński would not attack Duda unless the president decided to form a party of his own or to support a party other than PiS. 

The conservative leader has more pressing matters to consider with regard to the presidency, which comes up for election next year. PiS has to select a candidate to fight to win this election and Kaczyński recognizes he needs to find someone who would not only be guaranteed to make it into the second round of voting but someone who could win over 50 percent of the poll in that second ballot. 

The best-known candidates for that challenge are former Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, his predecessor as prime minister, Beata Szydło, and former defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak. Kaczyński still has doubts if any of them could win the election because they carry too much past baggage; however, the problem is that the party has not identified anyone new for the task. 

PiS has to retain the hope that, as in 2015 with Andrzej Duda, it can identify someone who will be capable of launching a successful opposition attack against the ruling majority by being a “fresh face.”

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