New Presidential candidate presents his election brew

The owner of a popular brewery and former “Kukiz ‘15” MP Marek Jakubiak is reported to have managed to gather 140,000 signatures in support of his independent bid for President. The number which needs to be filed with the State Electoral Commission (PKW) is 100,000.

Analysis: Legal wrangling over presidential election begins

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Mr Jakubiak is a free marketeer and nationalist. His candidacy will be unwelcome for the radical right Confederation’s Krzysztof Bosak.

It will also be a mixed blessing for the ruling Law and Justice (PiS). Mr Jakubiak is a candidate of the right, therefore better placed to take votes from President Andrzej Duda than from the centre or the left.

However, his stance that the election should be held in May, if at all possible, means that any boycott by the remaining opposition candidates would be ineffective, as there would still be two candidates left in the field. If President Duda was the only candidate in the field the election would be declared null and void and the process would begin 14 days after the date for the cancelled poll.

Opposition politicians have called Mr Jakubiak’s candidacy a put-up job by PiS and have hinted that PiS helped Mr Jakubiak get the required number of signatures. Mr Jakubiak denies the allegation arguing that he has been collecting the signatures for some time and was not willing to declare his candidacy until he was fairly certain he would be able to get the required number to sign.

Mr Jakubiak is yet to register any support in opinion polls. But then opinion polls have not been including him in their questions.

All opposition candidates are calling for the election to be postponed or cancelled in light of the Coronavirus emergency. The ruling party wants to wait until it becomes clearer whether the epidemic may subside in time for the election to be held on 10 May. For the time being it wants the election timetable to proceed.

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Poland’s opposition parties are applying media, parliamentary and international pressure to postpone the Presidential election due in May.

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Earlier in the week the Supreme Court ruled that another independent candidate, Sławomir Grzywa, could attempt to gather 100,000 signatures by the deadline date (midnight 26 March) despite the fact that he had failed to gather 1,000 signatures in the allotted time to register an election committee and his candidacy was ruled as invalid by the State Electoral Commission.

Clearly the chances of Mr Grzywa gathering the required 100,000 signatures in support of his candidacy are theoretical and that as a result he will not be on the ballot. This means that Mr Grzywa is likely to challenge the result should the election go ahead.

Ruling party sources suspect that Mr Grzywa had been put up to file his legal case by the opposition in order to increase pressure on the ruling party to postpone or cancel the election. The election could only be stopped from going ahead, now that the election process has been in motion for some week, if a state of emergency was announced. So far, neither the government nor the President have felt it necessary to do so as the special legislation on the Coronavirus emergency as well as legislation on combating epidemics has given them sufficient powers to deal with the emergency.

Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski asked about the election in an interview with commercial channel TVN24 replied that he would always speak his mind when it came to the health and lives of Poles. He denied that he was under political pressure to accept the election going ahead.