15:35 GMT06 March 2021
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    Polish President Andrzej Duda is in hot water in his home country following a secretive night-time visit to the home of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the ultra-conservative former prime minister and chairman of the conservative nationalist Law and Justice Party.

    Following the visit, which took place late last week and lasted for two-and-a-half hours, an avalanche of political criticism fell on the president from his opponents.

    Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, leader of the country's center-right Civic Platform party, criticized the meeting, saying that "we have a president operated by remote control." Emphasizing that it was unacceptable for Duda to peddle party politics so strongly, Kopacz added that "it wasn't very long ago that we were all under the illusion that we would have a president who would represent all Poles," according to TVN24. 

    Kopacz noted that she wasn't entirely surprised by the president's actions, warning that if the Law and Justice Party wins the parliamentary elections next month, both the presidency and the government will be 'remote controlled'. "I think there is nothing new here; if the Law and Justice party wins the elections, we are going to have both a government and a president on remote control," the premier emphasized. 

    Civic Platform MEP Michal Kaminski echoed the prime minister's comments, noting that the disclosure of the secretive visit demonstrates that Duda is not an independent politician. Referring to the fact that Duda went to visit Kaczynski at his home, instead of asking the party leader to come to the presidential palace or Law and Justice's headquarters, Kaminski noted that as a rule, "the person who is less important comes after being summoned by the person who is more important."

    Leszek Miller, former prime minister and leader of the Democratic Left Alliance, also criticized the situation "in which the president discreetly, silently, stealthily visits his political patron," saying that it really does not look very good from this vantage point." Miller joked that in his day, things were different. "I'm a man of the old school. In my day, two men would meet up to drink vodka."

    Janusz Palikot, chairman of the social liberal party Your Movement, also denounced the president's visit, saying that "at night, through some bushes, the president of the country sneaks into Jaroslaw Kaczynski's villa. It's just pathetic for him to play the role of Best Supporting Actor."

    Meanwhile, Joachim Brudzinski, the president of Law and Justice's executive committee, defended the visit, saying that it is no secret that Duda was the party's candidate in the presidential elections earlier this year, adding that the two men "have an excellent personal relationship" and have every right to meet.

    Predictably, experts in Poland are divided over the visit, with Duda's opponents calling him weak and dependent on Kaczynski, with supporters countering that he has a right to seek advice from people with converging viewpoints, TVN24 explained.

    Duda's secret visit with Kaczynski comes ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for next month, when Kopacz's incumbent Civic Platform party and the Duda-affiliated ultraconservative challenger Law and Justice are expected to split the majority of Poles between the two of them.


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