Polish opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski confirmed Monday that he would run in a June 20 snap election called after President Lech Kaczynski, his twin brother, died in an April 10 plane crash in Russia along with 95 others.
AFP - Polish opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski is seeking to build on his identical twin's conservative legacy as president after his brother's death an air crash in Russia.
The 60-year-old former prime minister confirmed widely held expectations Monday when he announced that he would run in a June 20 snap election to replace his late sibling Lech Kaczynski.
Jaroslaw has betrayed little emotion and shied away from political announcements since the April 10 disaster that killed Lech and 95 others, including first lady Maria Kaczynska and dozens of close political allies.
Experts said that the death of a twin, always deeply traumatic, was made even harder by the deep personal and political bonds that linked the unmarried Jaroslaw with his brother.
Adding to the emotional burden, the twins' mother Jadwiga, 84, with whom Jaroslaw lived until recently, has been in hospital since March in critical condition.
Opinion polls prior to Kaczynski's offical announcement of his candidature showed he would be unlikely to win against liberal challenger Bronislaw Komorowski, who as parliamentary speaker has by law stepped in as acting head of state.
Jaroslaw, the elder twin by 45 minutes, and Lech were child stars, appearing together in a 1962 Polish film titled "The Two Who Stole The Moon" about a pair of scheming youngsters.
They went to the same Warsaw high school and both earned doctorates in law at university.
As activists in the communist-era Solidarity opposition, they were close to its charismatic leader Lech Walesa, and helped to bloodlessly topple the regime from power in 1989.
But the twins fell out with Walesa after he became post-war Poland's first democratic president in 1990.
Lech carved out a career in the national audit office, but Jaroslaw spent a decade in the political wilderness.
He rebounded as a hardball and controversial politician after the twins forged the Law and Justice (PiS) party in 2001 in an attempt to unite Poland's fractious right-wing scene.
Lech became mayor of the capital, Warsaw, and was then elected president of Poland in 2005 after a tough, mudslinging campaign against liberal candidate Donald Tusk, masterminded by Jaroslaw.
The two found themselves briefly with all the levers of power after Jaroslaw became prime minister in July 2006.
Their hard-hitting double act ruffled feathers in the European Union as they sparred with the 27-nation bloc's Western heavyweights, notably Germany.
While their conservative, nationalist vision rallied a swathe of society in deeply Catholic Poland, notably in small towns and the countryside, it alienated many urban and younger voters.
Jaroslaw's rocky three-party coalition with a far-right party and a populist movement unravelled in 2007.
He lost office in a snap election in November that year which was won by bitter rival Tusk, who is now prime minister.
Jaroslaw is the bugbear of the Tusk's Civic Platform party and the fellow-opposition Democratic Left Alliance.
As identical twins, it was nearly impossible to tell the diminutive, stocky Kaczynskis apart.
But most -- including their mother -- agreed that Jaroslaw was the political mastermind of the pair.
"Jaroslaw will always be the one with the best strategies," she once told AFP.
Walesa, not known for pulling his punches, once had harsher words about the twins, telling AFP: "Jaroslaw was the brains and Lech did whatever his brother decided".
Date created : 2010-04-26