Poland: Will Jaroslaw Succeed Lech Kaczynski?

By Anna Chernova

Apparently Lech Kaczynski always wanted his twin brother Jaroslaw to be president of Poland. At least, this is what the political supporters of the Kaczynski brothers have been saying following Lech’s death in a plane crash outside Smolensk and Jaroslaw’s nomination as his party’s candidate for president. They have even claimed that Lech thought his twin brother would do a better job as president. So, will Jaroslaw take up his brother’s mantle?

Jaroslaw trails Sejm Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski by 20% in the polls, and analysts believe that he will not be able to close the gap by the first round of elections on June 20. Polish sociologists note that the frontrunner in pre-election polls usually go on to win the presidency in Poland. However, if Jaroslaw plays his cards right during the campaign, he will have a shot at winning in the second round.

Playing his cards right means playing on the emotions of an electorate that is still in mourning over the tragic death of President Lech Kaczynski. Like most Slavs, the Poles are an emotional and compassionate people. Jaroslaw, who just lost his beloved brother but yet summoned the strength to stand for election, can expect significant support from the voters.

Jaroslaw has already said that, as president, he would carry out his brother’s unfinished business: “The tragic death of Poland’s president and patriotic elite compels us to carry on their mission.” But it’s not clear what this unfinished business is. Lech Kaczynski pursued an erratic and unpopular policy toward Russia. That being said, the address Lech planned to deliver in Katyn signaled a desire to improve relations with Russia. Which path will Jaroslaw take?

According to former Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Jaroslaw is a radical politician, just like his brother, and he is bound to pursue the same policies as Lech if elected president. Like his brother, Jaroslaw is likely to take a hard line with the government. Cimoszewicz notes that Jaroslaw spoke of the death of “Poland’s patriotic elite” – the implication being that the remaining elite is unpatriotic. Jaroslaw may seek to divide Poland along these lines, which, according to Cimoszewicz, could prove damaging to Poland.

Artyom Malgin, a Russian political scientist with the Polish-Russian Group on Difficult Issues, thinks that it is premature to speak about the policies Jaroslaw would pursue as president. Malgin notes that neither candidate has put forth a platform at this early stage in the campaign, so it is still too early to predict whether the victory of either candidate will be good or bad for Poland.

We’ll see whether Jaroslaw can take the frontrunner spot when the campaign begins in May. We’ll see then whether Poland will accept him. After all, during his tenure as prime minister, both Jaroslaw and his government were extremely unpopular with the Polish business community.

Jaroslaw is determined to fight for the presidency. He made that clear when he accepted his party’s nomination. He said that his family supports his decision to run for the presidency, including his mother, who has not yet been told about the death of her son.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti, where this article was first published.


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Ria Novosti

Ria Novosti

RIA Novosti was Russia's leading news agency in terms of multimedia technologies, website audience reach and quoting by the Russian media.

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