Conservative Incumbent Duda Hangs On to Poland’s Presidency with Narrow Win

Conservative Incumbent Duda Hangs On to Poland’s Presidency with Narrow Win

The reelected Polish President seems set to stay the course on his socially conservative platform.

Poland’s conservative President Andrzej Duda has won reelection in a very contested runoff with Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski.

Duda represents the ruling conservative “Law and Justice” Party (PiS) led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, whose policies since coming to power in 2015 have been consistently raising eyebrows in Brussels with controversies in the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and media freedom, among other areas.

The European Commission, the executive of the European Union, has been criticizing PiS for judiciary and media reforms contradicting democratic standards.

In the second round of the 2020 Polish presidential election, the incumbent beat opposition hopeful Trzaskowski by fewer than 500,000 votes, TVN reported.

Duda won 51.21% of the cast votes vs. 48.79% of the votes for Trzaskowski, according to election results from more than 99% of the polling stations in Poland, the country’s National Electoral Commission announced on Monday.

“I don’t want to speak on behalf of the campaign staff, but I think that this difference is large enough that we have to accept the result,” said Grzegorz Schetyna, former head of Poland’s opposition Civic Platform (PO) grouping and member of parliament, to broadcaster TVN24 on Monday.

Duda is thus going to serve another five-year term as President of Poland, and is expected to stay the course with a socially conservative and pro-religious platform that has earned him many critics in the western parts of the EU and Brussels.

The incumbent was in the lead after the first round when he scored 42.9% of the votes vs. 30.3% for Rafal Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw since 2018 and a representative of the liberal centrist Civic Platform party.

Sunday’s runoff saw a higher voter turnout of 68% compared with a turnout of 64% two weeks earlier.

Duda, 48, a former lawyer and a devout Catholic, was first elected President of Poland 5 years ago on a platform of boosting social benefits.

He instituted a monthly state child allowance of EUR 115 per child, and reduced retirement age for men from 67 to 65.

His 2020 campaign was marked by pronounced anti-LGBT rights rhetoric in contrast to the positions put forth by opposition candidate Trzaskowski.

In the last week of campaigning, PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski accused Trzaskowski of being at the center of attempts to allow minorities to “terrorize” the rest of society.

While Trzaskowski failed to unseat Duda, observers have commented that his strong election result could boost the Polish opposition which has been failing at tackling the popularity of the Law and Justice party.

(Banner image: Andrzej Duda on Twitter)

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