WARSAW, Poland, June 2, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — The results of Poland’s latest presidential election brought a wave of hope and a gust of fresh air. Will it be enough to clean up the corruption spreading in one of the most conservative European countries?
Andrzej Duda, the Catholic president-elect of Poland, won the presidential election May 24 against incumbent Bronisław Komorowski. The virtually unknown Duda beat a well- known president who was favored by the establishment and mainstream media. Komorowski was also backed by the ruling Civic Platform party (Platforma Obywatelska: PO) that has been in power for eight years. Nonetheless, he lost to Duda by more than half a million votes.
Polish conservatives are not mourning Komorowski’s defeat. “Komorowski’s presidency was a constant flirtation with the radical left,” said Kaja Godek of the Right to Life Foundation (Fundacja Pro- Prawo do życia). “He signed anti-family legislation, supported Polish feminists, and halted pro-life enthusiasm with his statements.”
Duda’s victory represents a hope for a positive change. Wojciech Cejrowski, best selling Polish author and conservative star, wrote that because the election “took place on the Pentecost celebration, and his swearing in will be on Transfiguration of Jesus, there is hope for support from on High.”
Duda represented the Law and Justice Party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość: PiS), which is considered conservative on social issues, but supports left wing solutions to economic problems. Until the presidential victory, Duda was a former member of the European Parliament. Shortly after his presidential victory, he officially renounced party membership. At the age of 43, he has become one of the youngest presidents in the world.
His youth does not mean inexperience, however. He is a lawyer and holds a Ph.D from the Administrative Law Department of Jagiellonian University in Cracow; the oldest Polish university, founded in 1364 and one of the best in the world. Additionally, Duda served as undersecretary of state in the Ministry of Justice and as a member of the State Tribunal, which has the power to impeach the president.
He strongly opposed the infamous European Union “Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence” that opened the doors of all Polish schools to radical feminists and the homosexual lobby. The convention had recently been ratified by Komorowski. Duda opposes gay “marriage,” civil unions, and adoption, but as a president-elect said he would be open to talk with representatives of the homosexual lobby.
Duda’s stand on abortion law has yet to become crystal clear. As a presidential candidate, he did not respond to a series of pro-life questions sent by the Right to Life Foundation. He did sign the European petition “One of Us,” which was meant to ban “financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health.”
In 2014, Duda argued against the total abortion ban in Poland, saying it would ultimately strengthen the hand of those who favor abortion on demand. (Currently abortion is restricted under Polish law). However, Duda seemed to change his mind during his campaign. He spoke with the editors of the Catholic weekly “Sunday” (“Niedziela”) in February 2015, saying that Poland is ready for a total protection of the unborn.
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His stance on in vitro fertilization (IVF) is also somewhat unclear. He claimed not to be against this artificial method of conception. Nonetheless, during the televised presidential debate, Duda said IVF is against the Polish Constitution’s protection of human life and dignity.
Rafał Dorosiński, a conservative lawyer, told LifeSiteNews that he reacted to Duda’s win “with joy, but also with hope and expectations.” The lawyers hope that during his presidency constitutionally protected rights, especially the right to life from the moment of conception to natural death, will be respected. They also count on the respect for religious freedom and religious autonomy in public life. Dorosiński hopes that the president will shield education from ideological attacks, and protect the family from intrusion.
In Poland, the president has the power to select the prime minister, and to introduce legislation in Parliament. He also can stop any bill from becoming law, and this veto can only be overridden by a three-fifths majority in the lower house of the Polish Parliament. In practice, Duda’s election means that the Polish abortion lobby, funded by American organizations and European Union grants, have virtually no chance to change abortion laws in its favor.
If Poles are cautiously optimistic about their new president, the international press has largely responded with anti-conservative and anti-Catholic bias. On the one hand, The Economist praised the “energetic young” Duda, “his relatively moderate language” and his “political talent.” On the other hand, it also feared he could harm Poland’s reputation in the European Union. The weekly wrote that, “Poland appears to be swinging back to the right” and foresaw Duda’s Law and Justice’s win in the upcoming parliamentary elections in the fall. The magazine enumerated the dangers of a Law and Justice government: a “confrontational Poland,” euroskepticism, “opposition to the euro,” and “religious nationalism.”