Poland holds momentous, tight presidential election runoff


WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Voting started Sunday in Poland’s razor-blade-close presidential election runoff between the conservative incumbent Andrzej Duda and liberal, pro-European Union Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski.

Duda is backed by the ruling right-wing party and the government, as he seeks a second 5-year term. Trzaskowski, a former European Parliament lawmaker, runs for the main opposition Civic Platform party. Both candidates are aged 48.

Latest polls showed that the race may be decided by a very small margin. Amid calls from both sides to some 30 million eligible voters to cast ballots, turnout is expected to be higher than the 64.51% in the first round on June 28.

In the first round, Duda got 43.5% and Trzaskowski 30.5% .

Voting stations remain open until 9 p.m. (1900 GMT,) when exit polls will be released. The final official results are expected early in the week.

The outcome of the election will decide the shape of politics in deeply divided Poland at least until 2023, when parliamentary elections are scheduled.

If Duda is reelected, the right-wing Law and Justice party that backs him will continue to have a close ally in the president and maintain its hold on almost all key instruments of power in the country.

Trzaskowski’s win would give him the power to veto laws passed by the ruling party. Poland’s tone would also be softened on the international arena and especially with the EU.

The voting is held under strict sanitary conditions due to the still spreading coronavirus. Poland registered over 37,000 infections and almost 1,600 deaths.

Voters must wear masks and gloves, maintain a safe distance and use hand sanitizer. They can use their own pens to mark ballots. Election officials must wear masks too and sit wide apart from each other. Ballot boxes will be regularly disinfected and the polling stations will be ventillated.

In this Tuesday, July 7, 2020 photo Poland’s incumbent president Andrzej Duda, who is seeking reelection in a tight presidential election runoff on Sunday, July 12, 2020 attends a rally in Lomza, Poland. Duda, who has backing from Poland’s ruling right-wing party, is running against liberal Warsaw mayor, Rafal Trzaskowski. Opinion polls suggest the election may be decided by a small number of votes. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)