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Kaczyński refuses to participate in election debate in Poland

Jarosław Kaczyński, head of the Law and Justice (PiS) and Poland’s de facto ruler, who has devoted his re-election campaign to political attacks on his opponent Donald Tusk, refused to attend the debate – Politico.

The debate, to which the leaders of all major parties have been invited, will take place next Monday on TVP, Poland’s main state channel.

Kaczyński’s right-wing party is seeking an unprecedented third term and the debate might be the only confrontation between the long-time rivals ahead of the 15 October election.

Kaczyński stated he would not attend, citing scheduling issues, while Civic Platform leader Donald Tusk confirmed he would attend despite moving the debate from prime time to an early evening slot.

I hope Mr. Kaczyński can hear me. Jarosław Kaczyński, maybe you have the courage to at least come to your television, under the wing of your functionaries … to stand up and debate with me. I’ll be there on TV at 6 p.m.

Kaczyński plans to skip the show due to scheduling conflicts and send Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki instead.

“I have a meeting already planned in Przysucha on the issue of a safe countryside. The question is which to choose? Whether to talk to a liar, even more so, a man completely dependent on others, you know who … Well, I chose Przysucha after all.”

As opposition groups are closing the gap with PiS in the polls, the conservative party cannot afford a public blunder. And Kaczyński in this respect is capable of negatively affecting PiS’s ratings.

Television debates in Poland have a significant impact on the election outcome.

The last time Tusk and Kaczyński met on television was in 2007, when the PiS party first governed the country. At that time, Tusk’s Civic Platform won the parliamentary elections and he replaced Kaczyński as prime minister.

In the 2015 presidential election, incumbent president Bronisław Komorowski, a member of the Civic Platform, sought to improve his chances by agreeing to a debate with Andrzej Duda of the PiS party before the second round of voting. As the result, Komorowski lost, and Duda became president.

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