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Poland

Gay former mayor launches Polish "Spring" party

Poland's most prominent gay politician, Robert Biedron, smiles as he speaks to the media during a press conference in Warsaw on September 4, 2018.
Poland's most prominent gay politician, Robert Biedron, smiles as he speaks to the media during a press conference in Warsaw on September 4, 2018. JANEK SKARZYNSKI / AFP

Robert Biedron wants to revive Polish politics. The LGBT activist and former Mayor of Słupsk is hoping to do so through his new movement launched on Sunday in Warsaw, in front of some 7,500 people. The party's first test of strength will be the European elections in May.

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Much like its creator, the Spring party – Wiosna in Polish – is openly liberal.

Biedron, a 43-year-old gay mayor, who once ran the northern Polish town of Słupsk, has positioned himself as a progressive politician, championing LGBT and women's rights.

He has appeal. Even before the launch of his movement, Biedron had already claimed 9 percent support in recent polls, compared to 37 percent for the ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party and 25 percent for the main opposition alliance, Civic Platform.

"He is a man of the left," political analyst Jaroslaw Kuisz told RFI. "He has charisma, charm. And he seems to represent future generations."

Nonetheless, his views are radical for a conservative country like Poland.

Forced to work together

An atheist, Biedron advocates for a complete separation of church and state, the abolition of tax privileges for the clergy, and the replacement of religion classes in public schools with English.

His call for a cultural revolution, coupled with his gay background, could have been a barrier, but not for Kuisz.

"Polish society is becoming more open," comments the political analyst. The fact that "he made his coming out publicly, earned him respect."

But perhaps, his most controversial position is his refusal to join forces with Civic Platform, the main centre-right opposition party.

Despite his appeal, Biedron may be forced to cooperate with the opposition if he plans on winning an election.

He has not ruled out joining in a wider front come the Parliamentary elections in the autumn. But for now, his party wants to test its strength alone in the European elections in May.

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