Sunday, 12 July, 2020

Poland's Right-wing populists tested by close-run presidential race

Polish presidential vote headed for runoff Poland's Duda fails to gain majority in presidential election, says exit poll
Deanna Wagner | 30 June, 2020, 21:45

If the exit poll is correct, and neither party has gained a majority, then both will face a run-off vote on 12 July to determine the next president of Poland. Duda also attracted more older voters, especially those 50 years and up.

Duda, who is backed by the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, got 45.24 percent of the ballot with 87 percent of polling stations counted, according to the national election commission.

Donald Tusk today donned a facemask to vote in Poland's presidential election which pits the far-right incumbent against a pro-EU liberal challenger.

In Poland's presidential election, incumbent Andrzej Duda won the most votes in the first round, an exit poll showed on Sunday (June 29).

Opinion polls taken before the first round put the outcome of a Duda-Trzaskowski runoff as too close to call, with the Warsaw Mayor gaining the votes won by most other opposition contenders and Duda those of an anti-EU nationalist candidate.

Former European Council President Tusk, once the leader of Trzaskowski's Civic Platform party, was seen voting with his wife and daughter in Sopot earlier today.

Poland's role with the European Union was a crucial sticking point in the run up to the election with Mr Trzaskowski vowing to undo years of uneasy relations between Mr Duda's allies and Brussels.

Despite COVID-19 numbers still rising in the country, Sunday's first round saw relatively high turnout.

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Kazimierz Kik, professor of political science at the Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce in south central Poland, said he believed Duda had "greater potential" than Trzaskowski to mobilise voters who stayed at home on Sunday.

The polls suggest Duda got 41.8% of the vote and Trzaskowski got 30.4%.

Election monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Monday public media had heavily favoured Duda and had "failed in its duty to offer balanced and impartial coverage".

Trzaskowski, however, criticized Duda and the ruling Law and Justice party. In a statement, the OSCE also accused Duda of using "inflammatory language" and running a campaign that "was at times xenophobic and homophobic".

While Trzaskowski trailed Duda on Sunday, in a runoff he would likely gain many voters from the nine other candidates who have now been eliminated, including a progressive Catholic independent, Szymon Holownia, who won almost 14%.

Still, Duda, who has strong support among poorer and less educated Poles, has the backing of state-run television - the main source of news for many.

The electoral campaign was dominated by concerns over an erosion of democratic rights and bread-and-butter economic issues.

"The most important thing this result shows is that more than half of our society wants change", he said. And today I want to tell you all, I will be your candidate. "I will be the candidate of change".