Poland’s presidential election to be decided in run-off

Incumbent Andzej Duda to face Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski on 12 July

Poland’s incumbent Andrzej Duda won the first round of the presidential election on Sunday but will have to face the liberal mayor of Warsaw Rafal Trzaskowski in a run-off on 12 July, news wires reported. An exit poll showed Duda winning 41.8% of the ballots, against 30.4% for Trzaskowski from the Civic Platform party. Final results could differ slightly.

Duda’s re-election is crucial if the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party is to implement further its socially conservative agenda, including judiciary reforms the EU says contravene democratic standards, Reuters reported. PiS has depicted Duda as the guardian of its generous welfare programmes, which have helped it win national elections in 2015 and 2019, and of its pledge to protect traditional family values in predominantly Catholic Poland. A devout believer himself, Duda had campaigned on a promise to ban classes about gay rights in schools, saying LGBT “ideology” was worse than communist doctrine. 

“The campaign goes on because Poland needs it,” Duda told jubilant supporters in the central town of Lowicz. “Some people have a complex and think we are not Europeans. We are, and have been for 1500 years, since we converted to Christianity.” But his long-held lead crumbled in the weeks ahead of the election, after a late entry by Trzaskowski who appears to have galvanised many voters keen to end Poland’s isolation within the EU or angry over Duda’s allegiance to PiS.

The Civic Platform, a party once led by former EU Council president Donald Tusk, replaced its flagging candidate with Trzaskowski after the election was postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic by seven weeks.

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