The re-election of Duda, an ally of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS), is crucial if the party is to implement further its socially conservative agenda.
Polish incumbent Andrzej Duda won Sunday the first round of Poland’s presidential election but he will have to face the centrist mayor of Warsaw in a run-off on July 12, as the crucial race is closely watched by the European Union (EU).
An exit poll showed Sunday Duda winning 41.8 percent of ballots, against 30.4 percent for Rafal Trzaskowski from the Civic Platform party. Final results could differ slightly but any changes are not expected to affect who will compete in the second round.
The re-election of Duda, an ally of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS), is crucial if the party is to implement further its socially conservative agenda, including judiciary reforms the EU says contravene democratic standards.
PiS has cast Duda as the guardian of its welfare programs, 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.
But his long-held lead crumbled in the weeks ahead of the election, after a late entry by Trzaskowski who appears to have galvanized many voters keen to end Poland’s isolation within the EU or angry over Duda’s allegiance to PiS.
If he wins the election in July, Trzaskowski will have limited scope to direct policy but will be able to veto legislation proposed by the government.
This could give him a chance to block efforts by the government of prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki to deepen court reforms, which the EU has said politicize the judiciary, or refuse appointments of new judges.
Observers say a win by Trzaskowski could undermine the fragile majority PiS has in parliament, and force Morawiecki to govern as a minority cabinet or even face an early national election.
Poles voted in an election that was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and was taking place amid deep cultural and political divisions.
The turnout at 5:00 pm local time was 47.89 percent, which the State Electoral Commission said was the highest for that time in the country's past 30 years.