Duda keeps hold of power in Poland

Burton Mail - - World -

POL­ISH Pres­i­dent An­drzej Duda, a con­ser­va­tive who ran a campaign with ho­mo­pho­bic and anti-semitic over­tones, has nar­rowly won a sec­ond five-year term in of­fice.

In a bit­terly fought run-off elec­tion, he de­feated the lib­eral War­saw mayor, ac­cord­ing to a near-com­plete count of votes.

Mr Duda re­ceived 51.21% of Sun­day’s vote with 99.97% of the dis­tricts re­port­ing, the state elec­toral com­mis­sion said.

His op­po­nent, Rafal Trza­skowski, got 48.79%.

Mr Trza­skowski thanked his vot­ers on Twitter and con­grat­u­lated Mr Duda, ex­press­ing hope his sec­ond term would be “re­ally dif­fer­ent” from his first.

Mr Duda’s sup­port­ers cel­e­brated what they saw as a clear man­date for him and the right-wing rul­ing party that backs him, Law and Jus­tice, to con­tinue on a path that has re­duced poverty but raised con­cerns that democ­racy is un­der threat.

Crit­ics and hu­man rights groups ex­pressed con­cerns that Mr Duda’s vic­tory would boost il­lib­eral ten­den­cies not only at home but also within the Euro­pean Union, which has strug­gled to halt an ero­sion of rule of law in Hun­gary un­der prime min­is­ter Vik­tor Or­ban. Mr Or­ban posted a pic­ture of him­self on Face­book shak­ing hands with Mr Duda in the Hun­gar­ian par­lia­ment with “Bravo!” and graph­ics of a hand show­ing a “V” for vic­tory and a Pol­ish flag.

Zse­lyke Csaky, an ex­pert on cen­tral Europe with the hu­man rights group Free­dom House, said Mr Duda’s vic­tory gives the party “es­sen­tially free rein” un­til par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in 2023 “to do away with lim­its on its power and work to­wards de­stroy­ing Poland’s in­de­pen­dent in­sti­tu­tions, such as the ju­di­ciary or the me­dia”.

The close race re­flected the deep cul­tural di­vi­sions in the EU na­tion.

It fol­lowed a bit­ter campaign dom­i­nated by is­sues of cul­ture in which the govern­ment, state me­dia and the in­flu­en­tial Ro­man Catholic Church all mo­bilised in sup­port of Mr Duda and sought to stoke fears of Jews, LGBT peo­ple and Ger­mans.

Mr Duda also got an ap­par­ent en­dorse­ment from US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump with a last-minute White House in­vi­ta­tion in late June.

Mr Trump praised Mr Duda, say­ing: “He’s do­ing a ter­rific job. The peo­ple of Poland think the world of him.”

An­drzej Duda cel­e­brates his vic­tory

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