Pushing the envelope for mystery presidential candidate

When everyone thought that the Civic Platform (PO) presidential primary process was dead in the water because only one candidate, Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska had come forward, out of the blue, another candidate appeared. According to party sources an envelope with a nomination was submitted.

The party is not saying who the candidate is. Its authorities are now examining whether the candidate has the required number of signatures and meets all the other formal criteria to be able to take part in the primaries. The party leader Grzegorza Schetyna said on Wednesday that as long as the nomination is “valid” the primary election will go ahead.

Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, so far the only person who admits to standing in the primary contest, was clearly surprised by this development. Like Mr Schetyna, she was in Zagreb on Wednesday attending the European People’s Party conference and told journalists that “if someone is treating the primary process seriously then they should declare their candidacy and not just submit an envelope.”

The development adds to the discomfort increasingly being felt within the PO on the primary process. The process has been marked by people refusing to stand. Donald Tusk said he had “too much baggage”. Warsaw mayor Rafał Trzaskowski said he wanted to concentrate on running the capital city. Radosław Sikorski thought about it but said he did not want to take part in a ‘marked’ election as had been the case in the primary he fought against Bronisław Komorowski in 2010. Bartosz Arłukowicz, a popular MEP from the North-West and former government minister also declined to stand.

It had become assumed that Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, the party’s PM designate in October’s parliamentary election was a shoo-in. She polled over 400,000 votes in Warsaw in that election and is highly popular inside the party.

The party’s national executive meets on Friday and will take a decision whether to continue with the primary election process. If the second mystery candidate does not meet formal requirements it is likely that Ms Kidawa-Błońska will be declared as the PO candidate for May’s Presidential elections.

Comment:

This is bizarre cloak and dagger stuff. A candidate appears who does not want to publicly reveal who they are. The party is also coy on their identity and whether the person concerned is formally able to stand.

The PO has not covered itself in glory of late. The fact no serious candidate could be found to give Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska a run for her money does not suggest this is a party in rude political health.

Tuesday was not a good day in Parliament for the opposition party either. Two of its MPs voted for the government by mistake and the leader of the party made a speech in response to the Prime Minister’s address which looked as if it had been hastily prepared on the back of an envelope. Hopefully not the same envelope that was later submitted with the candidate for President.

That speech was immediately upstaged by a speech given on behalf of the “Left” by Adrian Zandberg. It was a well structured and thought through analysis of the failures of government policy on health, education and pensions.

Some feel that the speech by Mr Schetyna was the final nail in his political coffin ahead of the party’s January congress. But then came the farcical incident of the mystery Presidential candidate in an envelope. It seems that banging nails into Mr Schetyna’s political coffin is a show that just doesn’t want to stop giving.


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