I expect that the Law and Justice will attempt to subordinate media outlets critical of the government and to limit the independence of the local government, because both constitute a threat to the ruling camp's efforts of securing full political control over the country - says Prof. Rafał Matyja, a political scientist and a historian.
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Magdalena Kursa: The result was almost a tie, but the winner is Andrzej Duda. What led to such an outcome?

Prof. Rafał Matyja: It was the result of very intense mobilisation over whether the Law and Justice should be granted full power to rule over the country, or whether it should be limited and blocked. This was in essence at stake during  this election. The result left the Law and Justice party satisfied and the politicians and voters of the opposition disappointed. But the latter will soon understand that this was a very good result compared to what they could expect in January or April this year. The victory was very close, this result essentially amounts to a tie.

What comes next?

- Now the most interesting thing is how the authorities will approach this near-draw: will Jaroslaw Kaczynski decide to strengthen the pressure to take over even more areas of public life, or will he look for some modus vivendi to get along with such a large part of society that voted for a different model of Poland.

And which option do you bet on?

- Knowing Jaroslaw Kaczynski's habits, I think that we can expect an attempt by the Law and Justice party to gain those media which have not yet been subordinated as well as initiatives aimed at limiting the independence of the local government, because both constitute a threat to the ruling camp's efforts of securing full political control over the country. After all, the campaign was marked by the slogans of media repolonization - they were strengthened by the dispute between Andrzej Duda's campaign team and the editorial staff of the tabloid daily 'Fakt'. And as far as local governments are concerned - the starting point for possible changes will be their very difficult financial situation connected with the current epidemic. This situation can lead to a showdown that would be difficult for the local authorities - it is much more difficult for local governments to deal with financial deficit than for the central government.

We are talking about Jarosław Kaczyński and his next moves, even though it was Andrzej Duda who just won reelection. Do you not believe that he can become more independent from his party background during his second and last term?

- It seems to me that what Andrzej Duda will do is to some extent secondary to what Jaroslaw Kaczynski will do. Usually, he will submit to the PiS' chairman's will. Sometimes he may oppose something, especially if the party shows disregard for it. But he will not come up with his own political agenda.

The opposition is filing numerous electoral protests. Would you consider this election fair?

- Electoral protests are part of the nature of democratic elections, but after these elections a large part of the protests will be fully justified. Especially those concerning the possibility of casting votes abroad or the degree of involvement of public television in the campaign of President Duda. While it can be said that some private media were biased, the public television broke all democratic standards. So those elements merit protests, but I do not think that any of them would cause the Supreme Court not to validate the result of the election.

Could this result be different if the candidates of the opposition who dropped out after the first round supported Rafal Trzaskowski more clearly and vigorously?

- I strongly warn against thinking that strong involvement of these candidates would have a clear strengthening effect. You cannot simply tell your voters: forget who and why you voted for in the first round and now go vote for someone else because I tell you so. This can have a different effect from the one intended. You cannot treat the voters of any candidate as party activists. Anyway, in Poland this form of transferring votes did not become standard.

The elections showed very deep divisions in our society. Can they be mended?

- I am rather pessimistic. Words that were said during the campaign will be difficult to forget. For example, what Kaczyński said about Trzaskowski when he claimed that the mayor of Warsaw has a non-Polish soul. These are words that make it difficult to rebuild even a modicum of community that is based on the fact that we do not fight to death against each other. Denying political opponents not only patriotism, but even Polishness, greatly deteriorates the quality of public life. For some people this is just a cynical game, but there are also those who will believe it and will act in this way not only in relations with politicians, but with those who support them. A very vile seed was sown during this campaign.

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