The presidential elections in Poland are scheduled for late spring 2020. Most likely the first round of voting shall take place on 10 May 2020, but the formal decision has not been taken as of now. The incumbent, Andrzej Duda, has been the country’s president since 2015, and an MEP before that (2014-2015) with Law and Justice.
Who is running? The first grouping are the candidates with best chances to qualify for the second round:
Andrzej Duda, candidate of Law and Justice (PiS, ECR), who enjoys about 43-47% support in the opinion polls. The support, however, has been slowly decreasing. President Duda is a representative of the ruling government, hence he is a highly divisive figure.
Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, the Civic Platform (PO, EPP) candidate, is a former Speaker of the Sejm. She enjoys about 24-27% of support. Her support is steady, but Ms Kidawa-Błońska’s campaign thus far has been considered weak. On the other hand the Civic Platform hopes to repeat the Slovak president Zuzana Čaputová’s performance (a pro-European female candidate).
The next is the pool of candidates polling just under 10%:
Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz is the leader of and the candidate of the Polish People’s Party (PSL, EPP). He is credited for the return of the PSL into Polish politics last year (8.6%). Mr Kosiniak-Kamysz polls at 7.8-9.3% at the moment.
Szymon Hołownia is a new face on the Polish political scene. The popular Catholic journalist is polling at 5.6-9.6%. He tries to appeal to voters tired of the deep political divisions. He seems to be inspired by the success of the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
Robert Biedroń, MEP is the candidate of the united Left (SLD, Spring, S&D, supported also by Razem). His objective is to prove the support for the left-wing candidates is substantial. The Left would like to challenge the leadership of the PO as the main opposition force. At the beginning of the electoral campaign Mr Biedroń’s support is at 7.3-8.9%.
Krzysztof Bosak is an MP with the far-right Euroskeptic Confederacy. He has been chosen as a single candidate of the large pool of pre-candidates. Mr Bosak is polling at 4.6-6%.
Other candidates have under 1% support and it is unknown if they manage to receive enough signatures for their candidacies to actually run.
Does it matter?
The president in Poland is a largely ceremonial figure. Mr Duda plays his role in the PiS government. Still, the head of state posseses certain prerogatives which could be detrimental to the effective PiS governance should Mr Duda lose. For one, the president has a veto power over legislation. To reject the presidential veto the Sejm requires 3/5 majority. PiS and its allies do not have such a majority. Another important power of the president is to dismiss the Sejm in certain situations.
Since the opposition (PO-PSL-Left and independent Senators) controls the Senate, the President with the Senate could organise referenda to further challenge the PiS rule.
Hence if Mr Duda loses the tide of public support would turn against the ruling party. What will happen is this: either the stability of the PiS governance until 2023 is secured, or a potential next step to actually turn the tide from the PiS government and a potential win for the opposition forces as early as 2021 when the first early elections could be organised.
Early opinion polls of 2020 suggest that the “honeymoon” period of PiS governance comes to the end. Increased inflation is back in the country, and is largely felt by ordinary shoppers (3.4% in December 2019, the highest increase since 2012). The media are predicting that the prices of power, alcohol, cigarettes, petrol, and particular goods like meat, sugar, bread and toilet paper to grow significantly. The national statistical office GUS expects the inflation to reach 4% in 2020.
On 1 January 2020 the minimal wage in Poland rose to 2600 PLN (equivalent of 610 Euro), which is an increase of 15%.