Polish incumbent wins first round of presidential vote

Elias Hubbard
July 1, 2020

Poland's electoral commission said, however, it expected record turnout.

The changes were created to enable voters to avoid attending polling stations during the coronavirus pandemic, and to facilitate voting by Poles overseas. Still, in many places there were lines.

Once the exit polls were out, the rivals - both 48 years old - lost no time in wooing those who backed the other nine candidates, as they climbed right into their campaign buses and set off to meet voters.

Victory for Duda would cement the party's hold on power - at least until the next scheduled parliamentary elections in 2023.

Polling stations opened at 7:00 am (0500 GMT) and will close at 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) with an exit poll expected as soon as voting ends.

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

Opinion surveys conducted last week indicated that Duda could have a more hard time in a runoff.

Trzaskowski, who has promised to heal rifts with the European Union, is set to come second with 30.4 percent, but could receive endorsements from other opposition candidates ahead of the July 12 second round of voting.

Mr Trzaskowski rose fast in the polls after joining the race in May.

Duda's once-strong support, bolstered by adulatory coverage in state media, began to slip once virus lockdown restrictions were lifted and other candidates could campaign.

Poland has not been as badly hit by the pandemic as many countries in Western Europe, and most people were voting in person, though required to wear masks and observe other hygiene rules.

Anna Trzop, a 34-year-old lawyer working in Brussels, said she was anxious that she would not receive her voting package before the second round.

In his speech to supporters on Sunday night, Duda wasted no time communicating with supporters of other candidates, saying he shares some views with those on the left, but making a particular mention of Bosak.

"In the face of what is happening, stability is needed", he said. He took a position against same-sex marriage and adoption and denounced the LGBT rights movement as a risky "ideology".

The runoff between the two 48-year-olds will determine whether the ruling Law and Justice party can complete its push to seize more control of the economy and the courts. "After these five years many more people voted for me".

"It's bad. Poland is terribly divided and people are getting discouraged", she said.

Duda and Trzaskowski will strive to attract those who backed the independent candidate Rafal Holownia, who came in third with 13.85% of the vote, and the far-right candidate Krzysztof Bosak, who got 6.75% of the ballot. Holownia is not affiliated with either party and generated excitement among some Poles exhausted of years of disputes between the Law and Justice and the Civic Platform, the country's two main parties.

Walesa, who was elected Poland's first democratic president after communism's demise three decades ago, has been a trenchant critic of the current government.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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