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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » December 1, 2014
Politics & Society
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In Brief
December 1, 2014   
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PiS Unveils Presidential Candidate
Poland’s largest opposition party, the conservative Law and Justice (PiS), has named Eurodeputy Andrzej Duda as its candidate for next year’s presidential election.

Speaking at a Nov. 11 rally in Cracow celebrating Poland’s Independence Day, PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński described Duda as the “candidate of Polish patriots.”

Kaczyński, who was prime minister 2006-2007, said that the first step towards making a difference in Poland was to rebuild the country’s public authorities. To this end, Kaczyński said, Poland needs a new president “capable of shouldering the huge responsibility for change.” Kaczyński added that he would soon ask the PiS authorities to officially put Duda forward as the party’s candidate for president.

Duda said he would do his best to make sure that Poland “followed a democratic path, to make sure it is a strong country.”

“Poland needs hard work to be done to heal it as a state, so that it can protect the weak and does not need to fear the strong,” said Duda, citing former Polish president Lech Kaczyński, who was killed in a plane crash April 10, 2010, near Smolensk, Russia.

Duda, 42, holds a Ph.D. in law and works at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. He was a deputy justice minister in a previous government headed by Jarosław Kaczyński and also worked for former President Lech Kaczyński, Jarosław’s twin brother. Duda is a former member of the State Tribunal and a former member of the Polish parliament.

According to the latest opinion polls, Poland’s incumbent president, Bronisław Komorowski, has no serious competition and his ratings are much higher than those of any rival in the race for president.

Komorowski, however, has not so far announced plans to run for a second term. The presidential election is scheduled to take place next spring.

Violence on Independence Day
Over 270 people were arrested and 75 injured, including 40 police officers, in violence that broke out during an annual Independence March in Warsaw staged Nov. 11 by radical right-wing organizations. This year, the city authorities requested that the organizers change their route in order to keep away from the Russian embassy. During last year’s march, protesters tried to attack the embassy and set fire to a sentry box, which prompted a sharp response from Moscow.

Despite the altered route, violence erupted as protesters clashed with police. According to the march organizers, the violence was not started by supporters of nationalist parties, but by soccer hooligans. The march was heading toward the National Stadium when unrest broke out, obstructing traffic in the area for several hours. Hooligans hurled stones at police, used slingshots and threw Molotov cocktails. The city authorities have estimated the resulting damage, including demolished bus stops and road signs, at tens of thousands of zlotys.

Despite the violence, police say that this year’s Independence Day was calmer than in the previous years, mainly because it was concentrated in one spot in Warsaw.
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