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President Duda commemorates the 32nd anniversary of Radio Maryja

03.12.2023 18:50
Duda sends wishes to the controversial radio station 32 years after its founding.  
President Andrzej Duda.
President Andrzej Duda. Photo: PAP/Tytus Żmijewski

President Andrzej Duda has conveyed his warm wishes to the controversial Catholic radio station Radio Maryja on the occasion of its 32nd "birthday". 

In a statement that must sound ironic to large sections of Polish society, the President said:

"The Polish Republic more than ever needs a reliable moral compass today."

This is perhaps a reference to the election defeat of Law and Justice (PiS), Duda's party (he formally resigned from membership on becoming President.)

Radio Maryja has been an ally of Law and Justice, particularly since its listeners are mainly among Law and Justice's grassroots support, especially elderly women from small towns and villages. (Law and Justice's grassroots support has, however, shifted. In its first elections when it had a more centrist outlook, it had a greater share of its support from cities. See the summary of data on Poland's 2005 elections.)

In his well wishes, President Duda referred to the political activation of the broadcaster's listeners:

"Radio Maryja popularised the idea of engagement in public affairs and responsibility for the moral order, not only on an individual but on a social level."

However, the broadcaster has always been a troublesome partner for Law and Justice with the station's frequent association with extremism, in particular antisemitism:

- One of Radio Maryja's main sponsors was Jan Kobylański, the controversial and openly antisemitic businessman;

- The founder and Director of Radio Maryja (Father) Tadeusz Rydzyk was widely quoted as making offensive remarks about President Lech Kaczyński and the First Lady Maria Kaczyńska. The President incurred Rydzyk's wrath due to his open stance towards the Jewish community while the First Lady irritated the Director because of her openness to consultation at the Presidential Palace on women's issues.     

- In 1998, the leader of Law and Justice, Jarosław Kaczyński himself said of Radio Maryja that it "is deeply anti-western, pro-Russian and not at all against Polish Communism".

Sources: PAP, 02.pl, tokfm.pl, Wikipedia, tvn24