President Andrzej Duda launched his re-election campaign at a rally in Warsaw on Saturday. The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) gave him full support.
This was a carefully scripted event showing that the ruling PiS were fully behind the incumbent President and giving him the opportunity to showcase the achievements of his first five-year term of office and to present his platform for re-election. All senior PiS figures such as the leader Jarosław Kaczyński, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and former PM Beta Szydło spoke at the rally.
For a party so embedded in Polish traditions and history PiS are a remarkably modern campaigning outfit. Saturday’s rally was superbly choreographed using all the latest technology available for such events.
President Andrzej Duda said at the launch of his campaign that he would like to be close to his compatriots.
"It is important to me to meet my fellow citizens in their localities, so that they have the feeling that the president is with them, close to where they live," President Duda said, adding that he will try to visit every Polish village and town to be near the Polish people. President Duda also thanked Poles for their electoral support during his previous campaign, "when, at the beginning, nobody believed that I could win the presidential election."
"If it had not been for the votes cast, it would not have been possible to carry out this mission," the President added.
The rally was also an arena for other important PiS politicians that expressed their support for Duda’s campaign.
Jarosław Kaczyński, who was first to take the floor at the meeting, said that PiS supports Duda's candidacy, and stated that the decision to back him had been unanimous. Describing the president as "quite certainly not career-oriented," Kaczyński noted that Duda's presidency came at an "extremely important and difficult" time, and said his party had hopes for his further term as head of state because he "guaranteed courage, balance and common sense."
Recounting Duda's election to the presidency in 2015, Kaczyński said that at the time he ran a high risk of defeat, and called his decision to run, nonetheless, "an act of courage and determination in light of our idea to reconstruct Poland."
The PiS leader also praised Duda for standing guard over Poland's constitutional law and his role in breaking down resistance to change in Poland.
Kaczyński also complimented Duda for his readiness to speak with people, observing that "perhaps no one can do it as well as he can." According to Mr Kaczyński, this was the reason for the high level of support for the president despite the strong opposition against him.
“In politics, you can either move forward or remain in one place, or retreat. Thanks to the great change which Andrzej Duda initiated, Poland moved forward," the PM said. Prime Minister Morawiecki said Duda was "the spark which ignited a patriotic flame and led to deep change, deep social reconstruction." He added that Duda's presidency helped to improve the situation of Polish families.
"It was Andrzej Duda who enabled more dignified lives for Polish families," PM Morawiecki stated, noting that without the president, the government would not have been able to introduce the 500 Plus child benefit, a financial aid programme for school children, or a 13th and 14th retirement pension bonus.
Commenting on Duda's current re-election bid, Morawiecki said he was "the candidate of our dreams", who promised to make Poland "even more just, prosperous and safe." In this context he pointed out the president's belief that the economy was strictly bound to society, or that "there was no happy society without a strong economy and no strong economy without a happy society."
Morawiecki also said that Duda's presidency was based on the legacy of Poland's president Lech Kaczyński, who died in 2010, for whom it was most important for Poland to be "just, independent, self-sufficient and strong."
“Today, Poland deserves the best candidate: Andrzej Duda,” former PiS Prime Minister and MEP Beata Szydło said.
Beata Szydło also commented on the campaign of President Duda’s oponent Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska (Civic Platform).
“What is her real face? The one from the poster or the one that raised her hand increasing the retirement age of Poles?” - asked the former prime minister, talking about the Civic Platform candidate.
“Political photoshop will tell us different things in this campaign, but the real president is the one who talks and meets Poles, listens to their voice, and the one who keeps their words in his heart. This is President Andrzej Duda” Beata Szydło said.
The ruling party are keen to arrest a small but noticeable reduction in their own as well as President Duda’s opinion poll ratings. The fall is attributable by some to the controversy surrounding judicial reform, while other commentators point to rising prices as a more significant factor felt by a wider body of the electorate. The fact that the main opposition party, the Civic Platform (PO) has a new leader in place (Borys Budka) may mean that the electorate’s interest in that party has grown, with an equivalent increase in support for it and reduction of support for the ruling party.
But it is important to note that the ruling party is still over ten percentage points clear of its main opposition rival and that President Andrzej Duda’s lead over his main rival Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska is even bigger, (around 15 percentage points). Both the ruling party and the President have recorded falls in popularity of no more than five percentage points in the polls.
PiS are taking nothing for granted. The party feels it lost the Senate back in October by taking its eye off the ball and failing to target certain seats that could have been saved. In the Presidential election the country is one big single constituency, hence every vote counts and getting your supporters energised and willing to turn out is critical. The party hopes that President Duda’s rally launching the campaign will give it a boost in the polls in the coming days and weeks.