Populist leads, but runoff vote likely
WARSAW — Poland’s conservative president, Andrzej Duda, was the frontrunner in Sunday’s election, but fell short of the needed 50% of votes to win in a first round, according to an exit poll projection.
The results, if confirmed, pave the way for what is building into a very tight race in a runoff on July 12 that will most likely pit the populist incumbent against the centrist Warsaw mayor, Rafal Trzaskowski, who was in second place.
According to the projection by the Ipsos polling firm, Duda won 41.8% and Trzaskowski 30.4% in Sunday’s vote. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. Poland’s electoral commission has said it would release the final official results by Wednesday.
Whether Duda ultimately wins a second fiveyear term in two weeks’ time will determine whether the ruling nationalist party that backs him, Law and Justice, keeps its nearmonopoly on political power in Poland.
The party has been in conflict with the European Union over laws that have given it control over top courts and key judicial bodies, something the 27nation bloc has denounced as an erosion of democratic European values.
Opinion surveys conducted last week indicated that Duda could have a more difficult time in a runoff given that many opposition voters would be expected to unite against him.
The candidate with the third most votes according to the exit poll was Szymon Holownia, a TV personality and journalist. He was projected by the Ipsos poll to have 13.3%. Holownia is unaffiliated with any party and generated enthusiasm among some Poles tired of years of bickering between Law and Justice and Civic Platform, the country’s two main parties. Most of his supporters have said in surveys they would back Trzaskowski in a runoff.
Duda’s campaign focused on defending traditional values while promising to keep raising living standards to Western European levels. He took a position against samesex marriage and adoption and denounced the LGBT rights movement as a dangerous “ideology.”
Incumbent conservative President Andrzej Duda greets his campaign supporters in Lowicz, Poland.