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Poland: Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska picked as opposition’s main presidential candidate

Warsaw, Poland – The Civic Platform (PO), Poland’s main opposition grouping, has officially picked Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska as its candidate for next year’s presidential election to challenge incumbent Andrzej Duda.

Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, the current deputy-speaker of Parliament, was chosen during the party’s national congress in Warsaw on Saturday. “From today, we are working for victory. We can win and we will win in May”, she told the party’s delegates, after beating the other top contender, the mayor of Poznan Jacek Jaśkowiak.

A seasoned and moderate politician from the centre-right Civic Platform, a party co-founded by former European Council President Donald Tusk, Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, 62, may be the first woman to have a serious shot at the presidency in Poland, reported Politico.

An MP since 2005 and government spokeswoman in 2014-2015, the Civic Platform’s presidential pick counts both a Prime Minister and President from the 1920s among her ancestors. She has often presented herself as a moderate, conciliatory figure and been praised by friends and foes alike for her non-confrontational approach to politics.

“Malgorzata, a Varsovian, a successful woman, a mother, is good at listening to people. She talks to the ambassador of the philharmonic with the same attention and respect that she talks to a saleswoman in a local bazaar,” party leader Grzegorz Schetyna said earlier this year. “She knows . . . what Polish families need”

But the battle won’t be easy, with polls showing current President Andrzej Duda, nominally independent but aligned with the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, leading by a wide margin.

Long seen as a potential presidential candidate and bête-noire of the current rulers, former Prime Minister and European Council President Donald Tusk announced last month he would not join the race in Poland.

“She won’t convince core PiS supporters, but she has a chance to convince the undecided”, according to sociologist Agnieszka Kwiatkowska, as quoted by Reuters.

Running as the opposition’s candidate for Prime Minister in last October’s parliamentary elections, Kidawa-Błońska failed to unite the opposition to unseat the ruling PiS party, which was reelected for a second term with over 43% of the votes, compared to 27% for the Civic Coalition, an opposition grouping centered around the Civic Platform.

Law and Justice also emerged on top from last May’s European elections, with over 45% of the votes, 7 percentage points ahead of the Civic Platform.

The leader of another opposition party, the agrarian Polish People’s Party (PSL) Władysław Kosiniak–Kamysz also said he would run for president next year, while the Left and the far-right Confederation group haven’t announced their presidential pick yet.

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