Polish President Duda on course for narrow re-election

Polish President Andrzej Duda has been re-elected in a narrow victory, according to exit polls from the second round of the presidential election.

National broadcaster TVP’s exit poll, with a margin of error of two percent, suggests Duda has won 50.4 percent of the vote, compared with his liberal rival Rafal Trzaskowsi on 49.6 percent.

Polling leading up to the second round of the election had suggested the race was too close to call, with a final poll putting Duda ahead by just one percent.

Given the closeness of the race, overseas votes could determine the outcome of the election – with Polish journalist Jakub Krupa noting that these voters are not included in the national exit poll and claiming there will be a “long night ahead”.

Backed by the governing right-wing populist Law and Justice party and US President Donald Trump, Duda’s campaign focused on attacks on LGBTQ+ communities in the country, falsely claiming that their ‘ideology’ is more destructive than communism and was trying to sexualise Polish children.

During his campaign, he also made pledges to defend the ‘traditional family model’, including preventing gay couples from marrying or adopting children and prohibiting the teaching of LGBTQ+ issues in schools, mirroring similar laws implemented in neighbouring Russia.

Duda has also supported the government’s controversial measures to take greater control over independent institutions, such as the judiciary and public service broadcasters, which has been criticised by pro-democracy organisations and the European Union.

Trzaskowsi, mayor of Warsaw and presidential candidate for centrist party Civic Platform, had claimed that Polish democracy was under attack and pledged to veto attempts to politicise courts and make the office prosecutor general independent of government.

However, Civic Platform was hit by its worst ever result in the first round of a presidential election two weeks ago, winning only 30.5 percent, whilst Duda’s 43.5 percent was the highest for a Law and Justice-backed candidate and the largest vote share for any candidate since 2000.

Turnout is reported at 68.9 percent – with pictures on social media showing long queues at polling stations.

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