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The European perspective - Change of power in Poland

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Poland has elected a new President: Andrzej Duda belongs to the national conservative Law & Justice Party, led by Jaroslaw Kaczyński. The editors of TNF in German, French and Englich give their views on the Polish election.

The new Polish head of state Andrzej Duda one year ago as a member of the ECR group of the European Parliament. – © European Union 2015 - European Parliament / Flickr (Link) / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0-Lizenz (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)

Change over continuity

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Marcel Wollscheid - Editor-in-Chief of treffpunkteuropa.de

"Poland voted for change instead of continuity. Former president Komorowski lost his lead with a shiftless campaign, enabling underdog Andrzej Duda to rise above.

60 per cent of the younger generation between 18 and 29 years of age voted for Duda. This generation did not sufficiently benefit from Poland’s economic success in the past years.

Duda’s victory could lead to a recalibration of Poland’s course within the EU: cooling down the relationship with Germany and France, strengthening ties with the UK’s conservative government in opposition to deeper integration.

Concerning the upcoming parliamentary election in autumn, the big question is if Duda’s party will press ahead with a comeback of Jaroslaw Kaczyński."

Tension with Brussels? Wait.

Thomas Lymes - Editor of Le Taurillon

"Polish politics has undergone an ideological shift, with the country to be run by a conservative president for the next five years. The ex-incumbent, Bronisław Komorowski, failed to gain voters’ confidence in the last round of the presidential election. If Andrzej Duda will be the head of state for the years to come, Europeans will have to focus on the Polish general elections that will take place next autumn, to confirm the trend. During the campaign, social issues such as retirement age and youth conditions were raised by the Law & Justice candidate and enabled him to make a difference.

Yet, Duda’s position on Europe should be taken seriously. After many years of liberal policy implied by Civic Platform, the new president aims at switching to a more protectionist policy which could lead to some tensions with Brussels. Other Member states shouldn’t leave Poland to one side when dealing with Russia as Duda is eager to adopt a tougher approach, which could not include his European counterparts. Another issue for the European Union would be to convince Poland to implement the European environment policy. So far, the new president has shown reluctance towards this topic. This issue is even more important as Member States will have to appear united on this matter for the next United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris."

A missed chance for Poland

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Christopher Powers - Managing Editor of The New Federalist

"The election result has come as a bit of a surprise to many. For me it’s a missed opportunity for Poland. Electing Duda means a swing more towards nationalism and away from European cooperation. Poland could be the leading voice of the eastern half of our continent. It could be the moral compass of the Union on issues such as Ukraine and equality.

I understand people feel pessimistic in Poland but only part of this is the perceived lack of choice of candidates. I would ask that the youth of Poland do their bit to energise the country. To remind it that it has gone from strength-to-strength over the last 20 years, as it has integrated itself within the EU. The Polish future is a European one and Europe’s future will rest on bringing peace to the East. Let’s hope the parliamentary elections return a better result than the Presidential ones."

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