Poland’s first openly gay politician on Sunday (3 February) launched “Spring”, a progressive political party aimed at challenging the EU country’s governing right-wing party accused by critics and the EU of passing reforms that threaten the rule of law.
The move by Robert Biedron, the popular former mayor of the northern town of Slupsk, comes as Poland gears up for elections — both domestic and European — this year.
Biedron vowed to enforce a strong separation of church and state in the heavily Catholic country where the clergy still wields considerable influence. He also promised equal pay for women, easier access to abortion, recognition of gay partnerships along with a string of generous social spending measures including a new universal old age pension. He also vowed to “close all coal mines” by 2035 in a bid to stem chronic smog in the coal-dependent country that experts say causes an estimated 50,000 premature deaths per year in the country of 38 million people.
The progressive message of the charismatic 42-year-old, whose relaxed style is reminiscent of Canada’s liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, appears to be resonating with voters.
An opinion poll published on Friday by the independent IBRiS pollsters showed that his fledgling party has already captured 6.4% popular support, albeit still a distant third behind the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party and the opposition liberal Civic Platform (PO).