POLLING STATIONS opened on Sunday in Poland’s presidential election, in which incumbent President Andrzej Duda wants to secure a second five-year term and consolidate the power of the ruling conservatives.
Polling stations close at 9 pm when exit polls will be announced.
The presidential election could have major consequences for the political landscape there.
The victory of incumbent President Duda, the candidate of the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), would allow for her firm and unhindered rule until the 2023 parliamentary elections.
If Duda fails to win a second five-year term, defeat could significantly reduce PiS’s ruling grip and be the beginning of the end of her reign, analysts say.
Many voters see the election as a plebiscite on the future of PiS rule, according to historian and political analyst Antoni Dudek.
The decision is likely to fall in the second round
The June 28 vote is unlikely to lead to a winner and the final decision is likely to fall in the second round on July 12.
Polls show Duda in the lead. He can count on about 40 percent of the vote, but his support has been declining in recent weeks.
His main rival, Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, a candidate of the opposition Civic Platform, currently has about 30 per cent support.
In a likely second round, Trzaskowski could attract a large majority of the votes of opponents who will drop out in the first.
Opinion polls suggest the second round will be a close race.
Dudek still thinks Duda has the advantage.
“Trzaskowski is considered a candidate of the elite of big cities and that is his weakness. He will find it difficult to attract votes from the province, which considers Dudu its candidate,” he said.
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Analyst Jaroslaw Flis predicts a close race without a clear favorite, but claims Duda could have problems.
“In the last few elections, the PiS has won fewer votes than the opposition’s cumulative result. The ruling party knows that losing the election is a realistic option,” Fleiss said.
That is why they are tense in PiS.
Full mobilization of membership is required
The party’s leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s most powerful politician, called on the membership to fully mobilize in attracting votes.
Duda is PiS’s dream candidate. In his first term, he was maximally cooperative, even when it came to the controversial reform of the judiciary, which the European Commission saw as an attempt to abolish the independence of the judiciary.
If Trzaskowski wins, he could veto almost every PiS law. The lower house of parliament can only bypass the president’s veto by a three-fifths majority, and the PiS does not currently have that many hands in parliament.
Fearing that, PiS fiercely attacks Trzaskowski, using the state media as well. He is accused of allegedly mismanaging Warsaw and resenting his support for the LGBT community.
In the campaign, Duda described homosexuality as “an ideology worse than communism” and set himself up as a protector of family values.
The predominantly Catholic Poland opposes same-sex marriage and the right to adopt children.
Trzaskowski is much more conciliatory in the campaign, seeking to win over moderate PiS voters. He praised their social policy, a key factor in the party’s electoral success, and vowed to work with the government in good faith.
Such a strategy could bring in moderate voters, while not angering the progressive ones who have a thorn in PiS’s side, analysts say.
Elections were scheduled for May 10, but were postponed due to a pandemic.
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