The prospect of a Joe Biden presidency has reportedly set Poland and its populist government on edge as it worries the new president-elect will be critical of its anti-LGBT+ domestic policies.
Polish president Andrzej Duda benefited greatly from Donald Trump’s wholehearted endorsement, being honoured with at a high-profile White House photo op just four days before Poland’s presidential election.
The close ties they cultivated saw Poland securing US military presence on its soil, which Poland reciprocated by backing the US Middle East policies, prioritising the US as a supplier of its military hardware, and proposing the name “Fort Trump” for a major military base.
Meanwhile, Biden has condemned Poland and its “LGBT-free” zones in the strongest of terms, declaring on Twitter that they “have no place in the European Union or anywhere in the world”.
Let me be clear: LGBTQ+ rights are human rights — and “LGBT-free zones” have no place in the European Union or anywhere in the world. https://t.co/zc8YvSq6iN
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 21, 2020
According to experts, Duda’s leading Law and Justice (PiS) party are now struggling to digest Trump’s defeat and are nervous about the impact it will have on Polish-American relations.
“Poland will lose its status of privileged partner and both the PiS and president Duda are worried,” Ryszard Schnepf, Poland’s former ambassador to the US, told AFP. “They do not know how they are going to be treated by the new administration.”
Schnepf revealed that PiS “are very unhappy about losing such a powerful ally on the international scene… Isolated within the European Union, PiS had the comfort of being supported on the other side of the Atlantic thanks to Trump”.
These tensions were reflected in a curiously-worded tweet sent by president Duda on Saturday. As the rest of the world celebrated Biden’s win, Duda congratulated him on his campaign, not his victory, and noted that the process was still ongoing.
“Congratulations to @JoeBiden for a successful presidential campaign,” he tweeted. “As we await the nomination by the Electoral College, Poland is determined to upkeep high-level and high-quality PL-US strategic partnership for an even stronger alliance.”
The message was a stark contrast from the “warmest congratulations” he sent Trump shortly after his victory was announced.
Poland’s state broadcaster TVP was also reticent over Biden’s victory, describing him not as the president-elect but as a politician “referred to by some US media as the winner of the presidential election”.
Although Joe Biden as president is unlikely to have an effect on Poland’s economic or security relations, the loss of a key ally could undermine Duda’s leadership and isolate him further as Poland’s European neighbours turn their backs on his country’s anti-LGBT+ policies.
And with a new prioritisation of LGBT+ rights in the White House, it seems likely that Biden will join Europe in pressuring Duda to change his stance on judicial reform and rights of minorities.