Warsaw mayor named opposition's presidential candidate

Rafał Trzaskowski the new Civic Platform candidate for president. Tomasz Gzell/PAP

Poland's main opposition party Civic Platform (PO) on Friday named Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski their new candidate for president after Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska pulled out from the race, PO leader Borys Budka has announced.

Budka said the decision of the PO board was unanimous.

Budka praised Kidawa-Błońska for her determination in opposing the ruling party's plans to go ahead with the election on May 10 under a government-modified format due to the coronavirus epidemic, which Budka said would be "bad, unfair and dangerous."

"Firstly, I am certain that in several weeks we will have a new president" and "the difficult legal and constitutional situation will come to an end," Kidawa-Błońska told a press conference earlier on Friday.

"Secondly, I won't take part in these elections," she said.

At the last moment, the election was postponed by Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS), and Jarosław Gowin, who heads PiS's junior coalition partner Agreement.

Trzaskowski's candidacy was also endorsed by all PO's coalition partners within the broader Civic Coalition (KO) bloc.

"Today I stand in front of you as a candidate for the president of Poland, accepting a huge responsibility to fight for a democratic Poland, to fight for a strong state, to fight for democracy," Trzaskowski said at a joint press conference with KO leaders.

He said he was going to fight for a strong Poland, drawing conclusions from mistakes but not trampling upon everything that has been achieved over the past 30 years.

Trzaskowski, who is also a PO deputy chairman, was elected Warsaw mayor in 2018, beating PiS candidate Patryk Jaki. Trzaskowski was also a member of the European Parliament in 2009-2013, an administration and digitisation minister and a European minister in the PO coalition government.

KO will need to collect 100,000 signatures of support for the new candidate to officially register him for the presidential ballot.