First you are ignored, later laughed at, later others fight against you, then you are a winner

A groundwork for an amateur clip of support for Anrzej Duda, who became popular on internet in the end of his presidential campaign, were words of Mahatma Gandhi: ‘First you are ignored, later laughed at, later others fight against you, then you are a winner’. And this quotation is an excellent illustration of what has happened in the recent elections. The victory of Andrzej Duda means a new chapter in the Polish politics. Some people are predicting the end of the epoch of a parliamentary conflict because the whole arena of political life is going to be rebuilt.

Faith like a line

The morning in Stary Sącz. A postman is knocking in the door of the house of Alojzy Duda. He is entering the house, where children, adults and grandparents are praying. Altogether there were 20 people, so they had to kneel even in the hall. The postman stands at the door, being surprised. – Has anyone died? – she asks. –No, we are only praying.

This story perfectly shows what family the new President of the Polish Republic comes from. It is a very good, patriotic and naturally religious home. – It is like one holds to a line during a mountaineering climbing, one should also hold to faith in life – Andrzej’s father used to tell him so in his childhood. Now he must hold to ‘this line’ much stronger because he has climbed very high.

When he was spending his holiday in Stary Sącz, he used to serve to the Holy Mass like his grandfather and father had. The church and cloister of the Poor Clare Sisters in Sącz are an extraordinary place for the whole family. Even the president’s daughter’s name is Kinga, to the honour of the saint princess who resigned from royal life in order to join the cloister in Stary Sącz.

Unfortunately, some media and politicians have already started criticizing ‘excessive religiousness’ of the head of the state. They did not like the post-electoral visit at Jasna Góra, a prayer at relics of St. Stanisław at Wawel or rescuing the Holy Communion with his hands during the Thanksgiving Day.

- I would like to tell those who attack me for a prayer and going to church, that as a president I am not going to force anyone to pray – said Andrzej Duda. – But I also ask not to prohibit me from praying. I prayed before the campaign, during the campaign and I am going to pray now.

Cracow inhabitant from blood and bones?

Andrzej Duda was born, brought up and educated in Cracow, but his family do not come from the royal city. In summary, one can say that these are three places where the president has his genealogical roots – Stary Sącz, Warsaw and, among the others, Radomsko. His father’s family are highlanders from Sąddeczcyzna, his grandfather from his mother’s family line – Nikodem Milewski was an inhabitant of Warsaw. When he was deprived of everything during the war, he left for Radomsko, where he married the grandmother of the future president. – One can say that half of his blood comes from Sąddeczcyzna, one fourth from Warsaw and one fourth from Radomsko – says prof. Jan Duda, the President’s father.

And although Andrzej Duda is not a native inhabitant of Cracow, the atmosphere of this city, his family home and environment in which he lived, had much influence on him. – The fact who I am and what kind of a man I am is thanks to my parents and grandparents. They taught me to respect every man, regardless of his social status – emphasizes the president of the Polish Republic.

He met his wife Agata in the secondary school. They used to meet for many years and got married in the fourth year of their studies. The First Lady, as well as the President, come from families of Cracow intelligence. She is a daughter of a poet and a lecturer – prof. Julian Kornhauser. Their acquaintances say that they are a good loving family. – When I visited them in Cracow, I saw warm-hearted relations between him, his wife and their daughter. One can see that they would follow one another everywhere - says Małgorzata Wypych, whose deceased husband, Paweł Wypych had been in friendship with Andrzej Duda. – Such a family is a great good thing, which should be protected.

The President was a student of one of secondary schools in Cracow, later he decided to study law at the Jagiellonian University. He thought about making a career as a young scientist at this university. He learned independence and courage in scouting. – Although we both live in Cracow, we met on a winter camp in Częstochowa 30 years ago. Later we met together as students of secondary school and students of the same university. Andrzej is a person who cares about friendships – says Wojciech Kolarski, the President’s friend and the former chief of his office in Cracow.

How the President treats his friends was experienced in tragic moments by Małgorzata Wypych. In the evening on 10 April 2010, he visited his friend Paweł in order to console his family in his difficult moments. – I knew Andrzej from stories told by my husband, but I met him personally after the tragedy. Today he is a friend of our family and I am sure that he will be a good president – emphasizes Małgorzata Wypych.

A way to the peak

The President was brought up in a family, for whom money and material things had never been so important. – Live in an honest way, work hard and life will not disappoint you, because Divine Providence will look after you – his parents told him. One can only mention, that the married couples of scientists had lived with their son in a 9-metre room for 10 years. – When we finally bought a small car, we treated it as an additional room – prof. Jan Duda jokes.

It was similar with dr. Andrzej Duda who in 2005 did not use an offer of a lucrative post in a corporation connected with real estates. He preferred university ‘pennies’ and a scientific work. – Now he did not stand as a candidate for money. As the president he is going to earn six times less than as an euro-deputy – says Michał Ciechowski, the former assistant in his office.

In 2005 he gained great popularity among politicians of the Law and Justice party, who needed somebody professional for writing acts. When he turned out to be a good expert, he was offered to take over the post of the vice-minister of justice. – It is like vocation, it comes of all the sudden when you do not expect it, but you know then that this is your way – it was how the President reminisced his first political steps.

However, he already showed his leadership features in scouting. He could set purposes to himself and then realize them consistently. – He is extremely reliable in what he does. When he decided to participate in politics, I knew that he would be successful. However, I would never suppose that he would gain the peak himself so quickly – emphasizes Kolarski.

He is not a politician who forces his way somewhere, builds fractions fighting one another, or gains the power, managing an artificial conflict. He cares about: decency, honesty, friendship and work. When he is organizing the staff of his office, he just bases on his friends and people who never let him down. – With the victory of Andrzej Duda in Poland, an epoch ended. For the last eight years the political system was based on a conflict which was specially created to the needs of public relations – says Kolarski. – He is a man who treats politics in a classical sense, that is, as care about the common welfare.

Political mission

After the shortened cadency of the Seym and lost elections, he became a minister in the President’s Office of Lech Kaczyński. His duty was, among the others, checking acts according to their consistency with the constitution. The President and the minister understood each other very well. The Law Professor had an occasion to discuss with the PhD professor on the academic level. – Although their vision of Poland was very similar, Andrzej sometimes had a different opinion than the President. And the chief appreciated him for it – says Jacek Sasin, who was the vice-president of the presidential office at that time.

Andrzej Duda often referred to the heritage of deceased Lech Kaczyński. – He was a statesman, had a real vision. I saw ideas of the Polish country, which prof. Lech Kaczyński had in his heart – he said during his first convention. The way in which Andrzej Duda treated work in the presidential office was reminded by one of judges in the Constitutional Tribunal. After death of the President, the former minister still participates in court cases of the Constitutional Tribunal.

- And although he did not have any rights, he still sat in benches for the public, in order to continue his work for the head of the state at least symbolically. In this way he wanted to fulfill his mission. It proves the personality of the lawyer and the man – reminds the judge of the tribunal Wojciech Hermeliński.

On 8 April 2010 Andrzej Duda talked with the President and his friend Paweł Wypych for the last time. – I have lived long enough and my generation will be passing away but when it will happen, we will be burdened with managing Polish issues – said Lech Kaczyński then.

Two days later the President and minister Wypych were killed. – On 10 April Andrzej was to be on the airplane. He knows that his life was saved among very few supreme officials of the presidential office – says Małgorzata Wypych. – It seems to me that consciousness of being saved makes him more determined to continue this mission – she adds.

A candidate supported with prayers

The electoral campaign showed that a way to victory is not easy. Even political opponents admit that Andrzej Duda was working for his success very hard. He visited nearly all provinces in Poland, and his Dudabus travelled over 30 thousand kilometers. Today we can say that we have a hard-working and determined president.

When one compares photos of the first presidential convention with photos of the electoral evening, one can see that Amdrzej Duda lost a lot of weight. – No wonder. After all, it was a very exhausting everyday effort. I lost weight of seven kilos myself – says Michał Ciechowski, who was accompanying the President on the route for the electoral success.

Just before the electoral silence in the first round, a small meeting with the candidate and his daughter was organized. And although there was enthusiasm, nobody expected what would happen on the electoral Sunday. Surveys commissioned for the electoral staff showed high predominance of votes for Bronisław Komorowski. The victory in the first round gave everyone hope and authentic belief in victory. – On Monday we organized an unannounced meeting in Sochaczew. Only a few sent messages made a dozen thousand people come. Later, every day the crowd was getting bigger and bigger – says Ciechowski.

The fight was taking place till the last minute. the convention on Thursday, and later Dudabus and trip all over Poland for 24 hours. – I remember when the President thanked us and said that he appreciated us – says Joanna Wieczorek, who was travelling in the team of Duda. – He always asked us whether we had eaten something or were feeling well. At last night he used to go in a coach with blankets to cover those with a blanket who had fallen asleep from tiredness. The President is a good man who looks after Poles very well.

The campaign based on a direct contact with electors turned out to be a bull’s eye. Electoral staff knew very well that this was the only way in which one could omit a message of the main media which approved of the president Komorowski. – Andrzej Duda is hard-working, young and fit. He won the electoral race both in the substantive and technical way – emphasizes Ciechowski.

The campaign was taking place in the streets, on media and, for the first time, on Internet, especially on social portals. A few days after his victory, the President Andrzej Duda noted one more dimension of the campaign. – I know that a lot of people prayed for me. Maybe it was a decisive factor? It ended successfully because the candidate was being supported with prayers – he said during a meeting with missionaries. – However, now I will need much more prayers.

A night in the mountains

In the beginning of the campaign, Andrzeh Duda was being laughed at, because of his young age, his being not expressive enough, or being too kind and too gentle. – These are not bad features but merits. He is kind, but also consistent, living with his principles and can fight. What is more, he is courageous and honorable – says Kolarski.

After the won elections, the President met with his friends in Cracow. He was happy that now he will be able to do more good things. His acquaintances say that he is a person whose authority is not overwhelming but gives others more strength. What is more, he wants to remain the same man. – The character of his trips with his friends into the mountains will surely change. This time the Government Protection Office will have to train walking in the mountains at night – says Kolarski. – The President has already planned a trip with his scouting companions in autumn.

When one asks his acquaintances, friends, cooperators about some anxieties whether the president Andrzej Duda will cope with the supreme post in the Polish Republic, they answer that they feel calm about it. He is a good man and perfectly prepared to serve to Poland. The President has got one important feature – when he decides to do something, he fully engages himself in it.

Prof. Jan Duda looks at his son with great hope but also with anxiety. He knows that Andrzej will have enemies as a president. – It is natural that every parent looks at his child with concern. But what can I do? - he says. – The only thing is to entrust everything to Divine Providence, pray for strength and grace of the Holy Spirit for him. I also ask Readers of ‘Sunday’ for prayers in his intention.


„Niedziela” 31/2015

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: