Openly gay Polish politician launches pro-EU ‘Spring’ party

Former Mayor of Slupsk Robert Biedron (C) during the founding convention of his political party 'Wiosna' (Spring) in Warsaw, Poland, 3 February 2019. [Jakub Kaminski/EPA/EFE]

Poland’s first openly gay politician on Sunday (3 February) launched “Spring”, a progressive political party aimed at challenging the EU country’s governing right-wing party accused by critics and the EU of passing reforms that threaten the rule of law.

The move by Robert Biedron, the popular former mayor of the northern town of Slupsk, comes as Poland gears up for elections — both domestic and European — this year.

Openly gay Polish mayor launches Macron-inspired democracy movement

An openly gay Polish mayor launched what he termed a “pro-democratic” political movement on Tuesday (4 September) aimed at challenging the EU country’s governing right-wing party accused by critics and the EU of passing reforms that threaten the rule of law.

Biedron vowed to enforce a strong separation of church and state in the heavily Catholic country where the clergy still wields considerable influence.

He also promised equal pay for women, easier access to abortion, recognition of gay partnerships along with a string of generous social spending measures including a new universal old age pension.

He also vowed to “close all coal mines” by 2035 in a bid to stem chronic smog in the coal-dependent country that experts say causes an estimated 50,000 premature deaths per year in the country of 38 million people.

The progressive message of the charismatic 42-year-old, whose relaxed style is reminiscent of Canada’s liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, appears to be resonating with voters.

An opinion poll published on Friday by the independent IBRiS pollsters showed that his fledgling party has already captured 6.4% popular support, albeit still a distant third behind the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party and the opposition liberal Civic Platform (PO).

‘Positive energy’

Biedron also vowed on Sunday to focus on uniting the deeply polarised country still reeling from the murder of the popular liberal mayor of the northern city of Gdansk last month.

The public stabbing of Pawel Adamowicz has raised questions about hate speech in politics and the role that politicians have played in fomenting deep social divisions.

Mayor of Gdańsk stabbed during charity concert

The mayor of the Polish city of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz, was stabbed on Sunday (13 January).

“We need positive energy more than ever now… we must fulfil the legacy of Pawel Adamowicz,” Biedron said of the slain mayor who was a vocal supporter of women’s and gay rights among other progressive values.

“Our most important value is community. We no longer want Poles to be at war with each other. We want mutual respect and dialogue,” he added.

“Two political parties are trying to divide us into two enemy camps… to choose between the PiS and the PO, but we don’t want a war, we want to build the Poland of our dreams together,” said Biedron, as he received a rockstar welcome from supporters waving Polish and EU flags.

The PiS government has put Poland on a collision course with the EU by introducing a string of controversial judicial reforms that Brussels has warned pose a threat to judicial independence, the rule of law and ultimately to democracy.

Biedron’s “Spring” will run in May elections to the European Parliament (EP) before launching a campaign ahead of Poland’s general election later in 2019.

The IBRiS opinion poll showed the PiS winning the EP elections with 36.2% ahead of the PO with 29.6%.

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