Main Polish opposition party picks presidential candidate

Poland's main opposition party has chosen the country's deputy parliament speaker as its presidential candidate

WARSAW, Poland -- Poland's main opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform, chose deputy parliament speaker Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska as its presidential candidate on Saturday.

“I will be the president of all Poles," she declared to party members after a secret vote in which 700 delegates chose her over Poznan Mayor Jacek Jaskowiak.

Civic Platform led Poland from 2007 to 2015, most of that time with Donald Tusk as prime minister before he left to become the European Union leader. The party oversaw economic expansion and even guided the country through the financial crisis of 2008 without Poland's economy falling into recession.

But voters grew tired of its heavily pro-market policies, which had also allowed inequalities to grow, and booted it out in favor of a populist party that has expanded the welfare state.

Kidawa-Blonska is seen as a moderate politician with patriotic credentials. She is the great-granddaughter of a pre-World War II president, Stanislaw Wojciechowski, and a prime minister, Wladyslaw Grabski.

In a separate political development Saturday, two left-wing parties, the Democratic Left Alliance and Spring, joined forces to create a new party called New Left. They seek to strengthen the position of the political left in the ex-communist nation that today leans heavily to the right.

And the head of the agrarian Polish People's Party, Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz, announced he was running too.