Presidential elections: campaign with some bite

The head of President Andrzej Duda’s campaign has been accused of having bitten a man during the local government election campaign in 2018. She says she did it in self-defence when a man attacked her and her 15 year old son.

On the eve of the local government elections in November 2018 a man attempted to make a citizens’ arrest of a woman and a young man in the town of Milanówek near Warsaw. He alleged that the woman was distributing leaflets mocking the local Mayor at the time of the curfew between the end of the campaign and polling day. Local local authority guards arrived on the scene of a heated argument with the man claiming he had been bitten by the woman, but found no evidence of any leaflets being distributed.

The lady in question was Jolanta Turczynowicz-Kieryłło, a lawyer who was recently appointed to head the campaign HQ of President Andrzej Duda. The young man in question was her son. The man alleged he was bitten by Ms Turczynowicz-Kieryłło and filed a complaint. She in turn filed a complaint against the man for physically assaulting her, saying that she had bitten his arm as he was holding her by her neck against her will and was also refusing to let go of her son.

Comment:

The head of the President’s campaign HQ, a relative novice to the world of front-line politics has had a real baptism of fire in the few days since her nomination. In an interview with public TV she talked about dangers flowing from the unfettered exercise of free speech and on Friday she distributed doughnuts to protesters in Łowicz who turned up to heckle President Andrzej Duda. Previously, the press highlighted that she had been the lawyer that attempted to issue injunctions against stories on the head of Poland’s Central Bank Adam Glapiński. Now comes the ‘woman bites man” story. It is strange to find a liberal paper like “Gazeta Wyborcza” questioning the right of a woman to defend herself against someone attacking her and her son. It is equally absurd to question whether a lawyer should be trying to protect their client, as in the case of her work for Adam Glapiński.

“Citizens arrests” should be used sparingly. One can understand attempts to hold individuals who may have physically assaulted or robbed someone and might want to flee the scene of the crime. But to do this against someone who may or may not have been distributing leaflets is rather over the top.

This presidential election campaign is likely to produce more stories of this kind. Each of the two sides engaged in mortal electoral combat wants to discredit the other. All rude gestures, heckling, quotes taken out of context and indeed biting is obviously fair game. Let us hope we might get to some substantive discussion about the future of the country too, but that maybe too much to ask for in the current climate.


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