President launches re-election campaign

Duda said that his and the government's aim was for Poland to be a country that "protects the weak and does not have to fear the strong." Mateusz Marek/PAP

Incumbent President Andrzej Duda on Saturday launched his re-election campaign at a convention in Warsaw. Addressing the meeting, Duda thanked Poles for their support during his first term as president. Poland's presidential elections are scheduled in May.

"I thank you for your support and your votes, thanks to which I was able to co-participate in Polish affairs in this extraordinary position, the office of the President of the Republic of Poland," Duda told the convention.

Duda also thanked his wife, daughter and parents for their backing. He also extended thanks to ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) leader Jarosław Kaczyński, former PM Beata Szydło and current PM Mateusz Morawiecki for their praise of his presidency in their earlier addresses at the convention.

He added that he felt especially moved by Kaczyński's reminiscences about his earlier association with Poland's late president and Jarosław Kaczyński's brother, Lech Kaczyński. Duda observed that Kaczyński's words brought back memories of his earlier work with the late president.

"It made me think of my words of five years ago, when, standing before you with the announcement that I planned to run for the presidency, I recalled that special time when I learned what service to the country meant at the side of Lech Kaczyński," Duda said.

Listing his priorities as head of state, Duda said it was of prime importance to him to raise the living standards of Poles and remain in close touch with the people, which was why he made frequent tours of the country. Duda stressed that his meetings with local communities were important, as they gave the president insight into their daily problems. He added that he could not imagine any other way in which he could serve as president.

Commenting on Poland's recent justice reforms, Duda said they were necessary to make Poland a just and functional state. "The task is to repair the justice system, repair it well, so that Poland can be a just, well-functioning state (...). So that we have honest and wise judges who are independent, also independent of their own professional structures," the president said.

Duda said that his and the government's aim was for Poland to be a country that "protects the weak and does not have to fear the strong," and assured that Poland was already on this path, although it still had some distance to cover. In this context he especially pointed out the need to improve the national healthcare system and direct more aid to retirees and pensioners.

Turning to his election rivals, Duda appealed for an honest campaign based on mutual respect. "Let us show that politics, and even political conflicts, can be pursued with class," Duda said.