As Polish President Andrzej Duda has been losing traction in the last weeks and Rafał Trzaskowski, the highest-rated opposition candidate, is seeing a surge in the polls ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for 28 June, the ruling party PiS has started to adopt anti-LGBT rhetoric over the weekend as a way to mobilise its base.
Jacek Żalek of PiS’ coalition partner Porozumienie was cut from a video interview with the largest private TV station in Poland for suggesting that “LGBT is not people, but an ideology”. The following day, Duda repeated his words during a campaign rally. And when PiS and Duda started to tentatively back down from such rhetoric following international outcry, Przemysław Czarnek, a member of Duda’s campaign staff, said: “Let’s stop listening to these idiocies about human rights. These people are not equal to normal people”.
First, it positions the media debate as a clash of two visions – one led by Duda, the other by Trzaskowski – for the future of Poland. Such a set-up favours PiS as it won’t have to answer questions about its other controversial policies, but can play the role of a party defending traditional values such as the traditional family model.
Second, current polls suggest that Duda can count on roughly 40% of votes, which could be less than the combined share of the four opposition candidates (Trzaskowski, Hołownia, Kosiniak-Kamysz and Biedroń).
However, instead of looking for extra votes from the centre (which used to be PiS’s previous strategy given Poland’s polarised political scene), it is attempting to persuade supporters of nationalist candidate Krzysztof Bosak to cast their votes for Duda in the run-off.
While Bosak is polling with mid-single digits, he will likely outperform Kosiniak-Kamysz and Biedroń. His votes may be crucial in the run-off and social conservatism is the only area where PiS’ programme is similar to Bosak’s. However, Bosak voters consider PiS and Duda to be “socialist”, because of lavish social spendings.
The only TV debate ahead of the elections, is set to welcome 11 of the competing candidates on 17 June in a debate organised by state media TVP. (Łukasz Gadzała | EURACTIV.pl)