Poland’s Incumbent President to Battle Warsaw Mayor in Presidential Runoff

Poland’s Incumbent President to Battle Warsaw Mayor in Presidential Runoff

The winning of the largely ceremonial presidency reflects on key bones of contention between Poland and the EU institutions in Brussels.

Poland’s incumbent nationalist President Andrzej Duda has won the first round of Sunday’s presidential election, and will face Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski in the runoff in two weeks.

Duda, who represents the ruling conservative “Law and Justice” Party (PiS) won 42.9% of the votes in the first round, according to a late poll by Ipsos pollster, as cited by TVN24.

Trzaskowski, Mayor of the Polish capital Warsaw since 2018, from the liberal centrist opposition party “Civic Platform” came in second with 30.3% of the votes.

An independent candidate, Szymon Holownia, became third with 14% of the votes.

The voter turnout in the first round in Poland’s 2020 presidential election was 64.3%, with the runoff being scheduled for July 12.

Opinion polls prior to Sunday’s vote already predicted a highly contested race between the two frontrunners during a potential runoff.

Duda’s reelection is deemed crucial by the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party as it seeks to advance further its socially conservative agenda, TVN notes.

That agenda includes controversial judiciary reforms which have been lambasted by the EU as contradicting democratic rules and the rule of law.

PiS won Poland’s general elections in 2015 and 2019 with comfortable margins partly thanks to its generous welfare programs, with Duda portrayed as their guardian.

In predominantly Catholic Poland, PiS has been putting an emphasis on protecting traditional family values.

Duda himself has campaigned on a promise to ban classes about gay rights in schools, and has argued that the LGBT “ideology” was worse than communist doctrine.

“The campaign goes on because Poland needs it. Some people have a complex and think we are not Europeans. We are, and have been for 1500 years, since we converted to Christianity,” the incumbent told supporters in the central town of Lowicz.

Duda’s previously stable lead in the polls declined in the weeks before Sunday’s first round after Trzaskowski’s late entry.

The latter is believed to be attracting voters seeking to put an end of Poland’s isolation within the EU, or are indignant over Duda’s allegiance to PiS.

Trzaskowski became the presidential candidate of the Civic Platform party only after the election was postponed by seven weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among other bones of contention with Brussels, in December 2019, Poland became the only EU state to refuse to commit to the Union’s 2050 climate goal.

Poland’s Presidency provides for limited powers, although the President does have a veto right over new legislation.

Analysts say that if Trzaskowski wins in two weeks, that could undermine the ruling majority of PiS and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, force him to govern with a minority government, or even cause early general election.

(Banner image: Andrzej Duda, Rafal Trzaskowski on Twitter)

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