On Saturday, Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of the conservative Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) party, presented Tobiasz Bocheński, a former prefect in the Mazovia region, as the candidate for Warsaw mayor. He will face the well-known sitting Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, who will be the candidate for Donald Tusk’s Civic Coalition.
Trzaskowski won in the first round of voting back in 2018 during the last local elections and anything other than a first-round victory this time would be seen as a disappointment to both Trzaskowski and his party.
The PiS leader noted that Warsaw was the place where his identical twin brother, Lech Kaczyński, won the mayoralty in 2002, with his victory serving as a stepping stone to him defeating Donald Tusk in the presidential election in 2005. It is also the city in which Kaczyński has spent most of his life and in which he continues to live.
Jarosław Kaczyński said that “Warsaw was a 2-million large capital with a painful but proud history that was one of defiance and the fight for freedom.” However, today, he contended, “that freedom of self-expression was being eroded in Warsaw and across Europe. These values focused on freedom needed to be rebuilt.”
Kaczyński praised Bocheński as a young, highly competent former government official who had both the experience as the prefect in the region of Warsaw and the necessary energy and enthusiasm to do the job.
Bocheński addressed the party faithful after being handpicked by Kaczyński and told them that he would be the candidate of dialogue and development. He felt that many had high hopes for Trzaskowski as mayor, but these have not been realized, as the city was gripped by an inertia hostile to local referendums and failing to develop as quickly as had been hoped.
Bocheński was the government prefect (Voivod) in the region of Łódz from 2019-2022 before moving on to take the post of prefect in the Mazovia region, which encompasses Warsaw. He is a 35-year-old lawyer from the city of Łódź, who had been expected to be the candidate for Warsaw mayor to face Trzaskowski.
Kaczyński himself wants to repeat the maneuver of selecting a fresh face for the presidential election due next year, which worked so well when Andrzej Duda, a promising young MEP and former presidential aide, surprisingly defeated sitting president Bronisław Komorowski in 2015.
The PiS leader hopes Bocheński fares well against Trzaskowski and builds a profile for himself that could propel him into the national scene in time for the presidential election. However, polls indicate that PiS voters see former Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki as their best candidate for the presidency.
In the local government elections, PiS faces an uphill task in securing control of any of the big cities. The party is strong in rural areas and small towns, but it has trailed Tusk’s party in metropolitan cities for almost two decades.