In Poland, a Nation of Catholics, a Gay Atheist Mayor is a Presidential Hopeful May 29, 2018

In Poland, a Nation of Catholics, a Gay Atheist Mayor is a Presidential Hopeful

Robert Biedroń was the first openly gay member of Poland’s Parliament when he was elected in 2011. In 2014, he broke the same ground when he was elected mayor of the city of Slupsk, a position he still holds today.

There’s now chatter that the liberal politician could shatter that glass ceiling again if he becomes the country’s next president in 2020. And considering he’s also an open atheist, the fact that anyone is even considering his election a possibility is incredible in a nation where more than 90% of the population is Roman Catholic.

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The BBC notes that opinion polls already put him on a list of top candidates:

[Biedroń] is being talked about as one of the leaders of a new progressive political movement that is being organised.

A former Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, has urged him to run for president in 2020. Opinion polls put him third behind the popular incumbent, Andrzej Duda, and the ex-prime minister and current European Council President, Donald Tusk.

There’s still a long way to go before 2020, but there is a lot of dissatisfaction with the incumbent Law and Justice party among liberals in the country. The only question is how much that anger will translate into votes.

The Law and Justice party has approval ratings just above 40% while Biedroń’s Your Movement party is just over 10%. But it’s early, and if progressives rally behind him, those numbers could change rather dramatically.

His biggest apparent setbacks — the atheism and homosexuality — just aren’t all that controversial to younger citizens. If he focuses his campaign on non-social issues, like the economy and immigration and national security, he may be able to alleviate fears of older residents who think he can only be defined by those first two characteristics.

Again, it’s early. But keep an eye out for this guy. After a couple of years of hyper-nationalistic, anti-immigration leaders across the globe, progressives are pushing back and have the momentum. In Poland, that could mean we’ll be hearing Biedroń’s name quite a bit in the coming years.

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