Poland holds momentous presidential election run-off

·2-min read

Voting is under way in Poland’s knife-edge presidential election run-off between the conservative incumbent Andrzej Duda and liberal, pro-European Union Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski.

Mr Duda is backed by the ruling right-wing party and the government, as he seeks a second five-year term. Mr Trzaskowski, a former European Parliament politician, is running for the main opposition Civic Platform party. Both candidates are 48.

Poland Presidential Election
A man walks past campaign posters showing the two contenders in Poland’s presidential election run-off (Czarek Sokolowski/AP)

Latest polls show that the race may be decided by a very small margin. Amid calls from both sides to some 30 million eligible voters to cast their ballots, turnout is expected to be higher than the 64.51% in the first round on June 28.

In the first round, Mr Duda got 43.5% and Mr Trzaskowski 30.5%.

Polling stations remain open until 9pm (1900 GMT) when exit polls will be released. The final official results are expected early in the week.

The outcome of the election will decide the shape of politics in deeply divided Poland at least until 2023, when parliamentary elections are scheduled.

Poland Presidential Election
Voters, wearing masks and maintaining a social distance, queue outside a polling station in Lomianki near Warsaw Czarek Sokolowski/AP)

If Mr Duda is re-elected, the right-wing Law and Justice party that backs him will continue to have a close ally in the president and maintain its hold on almost all key instruments of power in the country.

A win for Mr Trzaskowski would give him the power to veto laws passed by the ruling party. Poland’s tone would also be softened in the international arena and especially with the EU.

Voting is being held under strict hygiene conditions due to the still spreading coronavirus. Poland has registered more 37,000 infections and almost 1,600 deaths.

Poland Presidential Election
Strict hygiene measures were in place at polling stations (Czarek Sokolowski/AP)

Voters must wear masks and gloves, maintain a safe distance and use hand sanitiser. They can use their own pens to mark ballots.

Election officials must also wear masks and sit wide apart from each other.

Ballot boxes will be regularly disinfected and the polling stations will be ventilated.