Getting to know Andrzej Duda

Polish Americans may know by now that Andrzej Duda defeated Bronislaw Komorowski in Poland’s May, 2015, presidential election. But, it is not surprising that they may not know much about him; he has not been in the political forefront recently.

Andrzej Duda, a 43-year-old conservative lawyer, has strong ties to the powerful Kaczynski twins.

The devout Catholic was close to the late president Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash in 2010, and calls himself his “spiritual heir.”

However, Duda only became well-known after Lech’s twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a former prime minister and current leader of the Law and Justice (PiS) conservative opposition party, crowned him presidential candidate.

PiS is the main opposition party to the governing centrist Civic Platform (PO) that has been in power since 2007, following a two-year PiS government.

Born in 1972 in the southern city of Krakow, Duda was a choir boy and Boy Scout in his early years before earning a law degree from the Jagiellonian University.

When PiS came into power in 2005, he was named Deputy Justice Minister, a job he gave up in 2008 to become an aide to Lech. He was elected to the Polish parliament in 2011, then to the European Parliament in 2014.

Duda has promised voters numerous social benefits in fiery campaign speeches, including introducing extra tax exemptions for large families and lowering the retirement age, which the PO government had gradually pushed back to 67 years. Some observers believe his pledges would be too much for the Polish economy to bear. “His promises go well beyond the powers of the president and his generous economic proposals could even ruin the (much larger) German budget,” said Radoslaw Markowski, a political scientist at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Others are confident it can be done.

In terms of foreign policy, Duda wants to strengthen ties with the NATO western defense alliance, amid security concerns over Russia’s activity in neighboring Ukraine. “The best course of action for Poland would be to have U.S. troops stationed on its territory. It’s the only way to guarantee the country’s security,” he said.

Duda says he opposes Poland’s entry into the Eurozone “so long as the standard of living of Poles remains below that of Germans or the Dutch.” Incumbent Komorowski also suggested care before adopting the Euro.

Like Poland’s Catholic Church, he also opposes in-vitro fertilization and came down hard on the 2011 Istanbul Convention, the world’s first binding legal instrument to prevent and combat violence against women, which Poland ratified last month.

Duda crisscrossed the country wooing voters and, five days before the first round of the election, won the support of the Solidarity trade union.

He is in favor of amending the constitution to make referendum proposals backed by at least one million signatures automatically go ahead. The parliament can currently veto proposals, and does.

Duda is married to a teacher, Agata, and has one daughter. His father-in-law is the Polish writer, poet and literary critic Julian Kornhauser.

Source: Polonia Media Network

Statue represents bonds between Cambridge and Poland

Cambridge, England — The close bonds between Poland and the University of Cambridge have been marked by the unveiling of a striking sculpture at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences. It is a fitting symbol of the long history of mathematical excellence that is enjoyed by both Poland and Cambridge.

The Sierpinski Tree is based on the geometric figure devised by Polish mathematician Waclaw Sierpinski who did pioneering work in the early 20th Century on the field of fractals. A fractal is a geometric figure in which each part possesses the same statistical properties as the whole.

The Polish Ambassador, Witold Sobkow, was welcomed to Cambridge by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, himself of Polish descent.

Unveiling the statue, the Ambassador said, “As ties between Poland and the University of Cambridge are stronger than ever before, there is no better place in Britain to celebrate the growing importance of Polish science. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is proud of the establishment of the Polish Studies program at the Department of Slavonic Studies, partly financed by the Foundation for Polish Science.”

In response the Vice-Chancellor said, “I am delighted to see a new home for the Sierpinski Tree in the Centre for Mathematical Sciences. The tree has been installed by the University of Cambridge and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in London to mark the centenary of Waclaw Sierpinski’s achievement. It is a fitting symbol of the long history of mathematical excellence that is enjoyed by both Poland and Cambridge.”

The Vice-Chancellor continued, “Our knowledge exchange with Poland extends to this day, with collaborations across a range of subjects. Last week we submitted a twinning bid to the EU Horizon 2020 program, with the Wroclaw University of Technology, on Developing Scientific Excellence and Innovation Capacity in Data Science.

He concluded, “We recognize Poland’s strengths in both the physical and life sciences, and are keen to build on our base of existing bilateral cooperation. It is fitting, therefore, that we met today to celebrate the installation of such an auspicious symbol of scientific achievement.”

The Sierpinski Tree, which was on display on London’s South Bank for the past year, celebrates Polish Science and is seen as a symbol of the modernity and dynamism of contemporary Poland.

Source: Polonia Media Network