Since his brother, Polish president Lech Kaczynski, died last year, Jaroslaw Kaczynski has been trying to translate that personal and national tragedy into political victory. Last year, the former prime minister and current leader of Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice Party ran to fill the post left empty by his twin, who died with 95 others when a military airplane he was travelling on crashed in Russia on April 10, 2010. Jaroslaw tried to ride the spirit of national unity that had seized Poland by toning down his polarizing views and populist rants, but lost.
Now he’s aiming to reconquer the PM title—with the exact opposite strategy. Ahead of an Oct. 9 parliamentary election, the conservative leader has been rallying Poles against Russia, which he accuses of being involved in his brother’s death. He has also recruited several family members of the victims of the crash, all of them political neophytes, to run for Law and Justice. It’s unclear how well the volte-face is faring with the public, as different polls put voter support for his party as low as 20 and as high as 32 per cent, a mere four percentage points behind the leading Civic Platform party. Moscow must surely be watching closely.