Robert Biedroń, the gay activist, former Mayor or Słupsk and the leader and founder of the Spring party which is in the process of merging with the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) into the Left party, has been backed by the SLD leader Włodzimierz Czarzasty to stand for the Left in May’s presidential election. The decision will be confirmed at a party convention on 19 January.
The Left stood as a coalition of three left wing parties; the SLD, Spring and the Together party in last year’s parliamentary elections. The coalition managed to get just over 12 percent of the votes cast and entered Parliament with over 50 deputies.
Since the election the SLD and Spring have decided to join forces and to form one party named the Left. The Together party has so far retained its separate identity.
However, according to Mr Czarzasty, Together have little choice but to back Mr Biedroń as they had agreed to his candidacy as a pre-condition of the electoral Left alliance for the parliamentary elections. Since those elections there has been speculation that one of the most popular and visible leaders from the Together party, Adrian Zandberg, might put himself forward as the candidate. This is now unlikely.
Last year Robert Biedroń launched his Spring party in the winter. In the actual spring it managed to have 3 MEPs elected on just over six percent of the votes cast in the European elections. But that result was considered not promising enough for the party to go it alone into the Parliamentary contest in October.
Mr Biedroń’s reputation suffered badly following him changing his mind on taking up his Seat as an MEP in Brussels. He had promised to lead his party into the Polish Parliamentary elections. In the end he did not stand for the Polish Parliament and remains an MEP.
Mr Biedroń’s candidacy means that the Left are likely to emphasize LGBT rights and women’s rights rather than social or economic issue in the coming Presidential campaign. It is also likely that it will campaign for removing religious education from schools and for curtailing any state funding or tax privileges for the Catholic Church.
It is almost certain that the incumbent, President Andrzej Duda will stand as the Law and Justice candidate in the Presidential election. The Civic Platform (PO) has selected Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, its PM designate from the Parliamentary poll, as its Presidential candidate. The Polish People’s Party (PSL) has chosen its leader Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz as its nominee. The radical right Confederation which entered Parliament with 11 MPs and almost seven percent of the vote last October is in the process of selecting its candidate in a primary election.
The only independent candidate to put himself forward at this stage is the TV celebrity and Catholic activist Szymon Hołownia. He has so far emphasized the need to reduce polarisation in Polish politics and environmental issues such as climate change.
In terms of poll ratings President Duda is well ahead with over 40 percent support. Ms Kidawa-Błońska is second with ratings just below 25 percent of the vote. The other candidates are at this stage all polling below ten percent.