Both 48 years old, were born just four months apart. Both went to prestigious high schools in major cities, and each has a doctorate from one of the two largest universities in Poland. Both have also represented the same parliamentary constituency of Duda’s hometown, the historic southern city of Krakow.
However, their backgrounds are markedly different: they illustrate the fissures of class, culture, and geography that perpetuate the country’s political polarization and lend an element of psychodrama to Sunday’s proceedings.
“Simply put, Duda and Trzaskowski are the faces of both Poland,” said Adam Szostkiewicz, a veteran political commentator for Polityka, a political weekly.
Trzaskowski, the son of a famous jazz musician, grew up in Warsaw and spent a year at an American high school in Michigan in the early 1990s. A specialist in international relations and a graduate in English philology, he studied at the Warsaw College of Europe. and he received scholarships from Oxford University and the European Union Institute for Security Studies in Paris before entering politics.
Duda, who studied and then taught law at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, is the son of professors at the Old Krakow Mining University and received a much more traditional, and according to some reports, severe education, steeped in Catholicism and conservative values. As a young man, he was a member of the Polish exploration movement, a pillar of the country’s patriotic tradition.
“Trzaskowski identifies with a cosmopolitan Polish tradition that is liberal, internationalist, and pro-European, while Duda represents a provincial, conservative, and polycentric Poland,” said Szostkiewicz. “This is what separates us, it is what has always separated us, and we are all guilty.”