WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Polandâ€™s conservative President Andrzej Duda won a narrow majority in a bitterly fought weekend election, defeating the liberal Warsaw mayor, according to a near complete count of votes.
The state electoral commission said that Duda had 51.21% of the vote based on a count of votes from 99.97% districts. His opponent, Rafal Trzaskowski, trailed with 48.79% of the vote.
The head of the commission, Sylwester Marciniak, said final official results would only be announced later. They could vary slightly, but with Duda having nearly half a million votes more than Trzaskowski, they are not expected to reverse Duda’s victory.
The very close race reflected the deep cultural divisions in this European Union nation.
It followed a bitter campaign dominated by issues of culture in which the government, state media and the influential Catholic church all mobilized in support of Duda, a social conservative.
Duda, who is backed by the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party, campaigned on traditional values and social spending in this mostly Catholic nation as he sought a second five-year term.
As the race became tighter in recent weeks, Duda turned further to the right in search of votes. He seized on gay rights as a key theme, denouncing the LGBT rights movement as an â€œideologyâ€ worse than communism.
Trzaskowski, as Warsaw mayor, signed a tolerance declaration for LGBT people that triggered a nationwide backlash. The ruling party denounced LGBT rights as a foreign import that threatens Polish identity, and many municipalities declared themselves to be â€œLGBT free.â€
The European Union has denounced the anti-gay rhetoric and gestures and some officials have called for EU funding to be denied to the communities that declared themselves to be â€œLGBT free,â€ mostly a symbolic gesture but once that has caused gays and lesbians to live in fear.
Dudaâ€™s campaign also cast Trzaskowski as someone who would sell out Polish families to Jewish interests, tapping into old anti-Semitic tropes in a country that was home to Europeâ€™s largest Jewish community before it was decimated by Germany in the Holocaust.