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Kaczynski twin to run for president
Brother of president killed in air crash says he will stand to continue his policies.
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2010 21:07 GMT
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, left, said he would continue his brother Lech's, right, policies if elected [Reuters]

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of Poland's former president, who was killed in a plane crash in Russia earlier this month, has said he will run in presidential elections called for June.

The elections were called early after Lech Kaczynski, his wife Maria and 94 others were killed on April 10 in Smolensk, Russia, en route to a memorial service for a second world war massacre.

Kaczynski, the leader of Poland's main opposition, the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, said on Monday that he would be standing in the contest in order to continue his brother's policies.

"Poland is our great shared obligation. We are required to overcome our personal pain and to take on this mission despite the personal tragedy," he said in a statement.

"That's why I have taken the decision to run for the presidency of Poland."

Krzysztof Dzieciolowski, a journalist in Warsaw, told Al Jazeera that Kaczynski's decision to run could be seen in two ways.

He said: "It may not be a surprise ... but given the tremendous personal loss that he [Kaczynski] suffered - he not only lost his twin brother but also lost the president's wife - and given the fact the twins' mother is still in hospital, it's a very hard decision on a man individually.

"On the other hand, the Law and Justice party felt an incredible vacuum, and it was really difficult to imagine anybody else who could pick up the flag, as they say, and run for the presidency."

Unusual election

Lech Kaczynski's term was due to expire in December and the election has been brought forward to June 20 from the autumn.

in depth

  Profile: Jaroslaw Kaczynski
  Obituary: Lech Kaczynski
  World leaders mourn Poland's loss
  Video: Nation in mourning
  Blog: Chill falls over Poland

"In reality, it won't be him [Jarolslaw] running, it will be his brother. His campaign team will play on sympathy for his brother," Krzysztof Bobinski, the head of the Unia & Polska Foundation, a Warsaw think-tank, said.

"Kaczynski would have a chance to win only if other candidates make mistakes. This is a difficult situation for everybody.

"This is not a normal election campaign but I think political attitudes generally have not changed among voters."

The most recent opinion polls show Bronislaw Komorowski, the acting president and candidate for the centrist governing Civic Platform, winning the presidential election.

A TNS OBOP opinion survey conducted on April 8-14 and published on Monday showed support for PiS had risen by nine per cent points to 33 per cent since March, however it still lagged behind the party of Donald Tusk, the prime minister, on 52 per cent.

Eurosceptic policies

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, 60, served as prime minister in 2006 to 2007 at the head of a fractious right-wing coalition that antagonised business and political elites and strained ties with the European Union, Germany and Russia.

The Kaczynski twins, who were active in the pro-democracy Solidarity movement that toppled communism in 1989, set up the PiS in 2001.

The party is conservative on social and moral issues but left-leaning on the economy, favouring more state spending and opposing privatisation.

Kaczynski keeps tight control of the PiS, which is sceptical about further European integration and opposes Poland's early adoption of the euro.

He came close to sabotaging Angela Merkel's, the German chancellor, bid to seal a deal on a new EU treaty in 2007, famously invoking the number of Poles killed by the Nazis during the second world war to press Warsaw's demand for greater voting rights.

Source:
Agencies
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