Poland's Duda fails to gain majority in presidential election, says exit poll

Cheryl Sanders
June 29, 2020

Both Duda and Trzaskowski, after hearing the results, seemed to indicate that they meant to battle for the votes of the far-right candidate, Bosak.

With this result, Duda has won the first round of the presidential elections, and along with Trzaskowski, he will go to the second round next month.

"I have this result after five years of being in politics, of being criticised in many ways, attacked, of taking hard decisions", Mr Duda told supporters on Sunday night.

The state electoral commission said its almost complete vote shows Duda with 43.67%; Trzaskowski with 30.34%; Holownia with 13.85% and Bosak with 6.75%.

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The high turnout was consistent with generally increased participation in recent elections in Poland, attributed to the high level of political polarisation between the governing rightist Law and Justice PiS party and its opponents.

Up for grabs will be the supporters of Szymon Holownia, a progressive Catholic nonaligned candidate, who won almost 14% of the votes, as well as a far-right lawmaker, Krzysztof Bosak, who had almost 7%. He was projected by the Ipsos poll to have 13.3 percent. Holownia is unaffiliated with any party and has generated some enthusiasm among those exhausted of years of bickering between Law and Justice and Civic Platform, the country's two main parties.

Also in the running are a left-wing politician who is Poland's first openly gay presidential contender, Robert Biedron; the head of an agrarian party, Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz; and a lawmaker with the far-right Confederation party, Krzysztof Bosak. None of the other eight candidates topped 10 percent.

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

"I want to say clearly to all these citizens - I will be your candidate".

But his long-held lead crumbled in the weeks before the election after a late entry by Trzaskowski, who appears to have galvanised many voters eager to end Poland's isolation within the European Union or angry over Duda's allegiance to PiS. All other candidates in a field of 11 polled even lower.

Originally scheduled for May, the ballot was postponed due to the pandemic and a new hybrid system of postal and conventional voting was in place on Sunday in a bid to stop the election from causing a spike in infections.

In April, Duda had very high support and was expected then to win in a single round.

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.

As of Sunday, Poland had almost 34,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its 38 million people, with over 1,400 deaths. Duda's once strong support, bolstered by adulatory coverage in public media, began to slip once virus lockdown restrictions were lifted and other candidates could campaign. He took a position against same-sex marriage and adoption and denounced the LGBT rights movement as a unsafe "ideology".

Liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, who is standing for the largest opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform (PO), came second with 30.3 percent, officials say.

On the campaign trail, Trzaskowski, has promised to keep Law and Justice's popular social welfare spending programs while vowing to restore constitutional norms.

Other reports by iNewsToday