Second round of Polish presidential elections expected to be highly contested

Poland will hold a second round of voting today for its presidential election after no candidate reached an absolute majority

Campaign posters for Duda and Trzaskowski the countrys two major candidates

Photo: Agencja Gazeta/Adam Stępień via Reuters

Poland will hold a second round of voting today for its presidential election after no candidate reached an absolute majority in the first round.

Today’s vote will pit liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski against conservative incumbent President Andrzej Duda. While Duda drew the most votes in the first round (41.8%), Trzaskowski, who experienced a surge in popularity after entering the race in mid-May, attained over 30% of the vote.

Polls leading up to today show an extremely tight race. Trzaskowski is likely to gain significant support from the over 25% of Poles who voted for smaller opposition candidates, including third-place Szymon Holownia (13.3%).

Expect today’s vote—posited by some as a key point in Poland’s democracy—to build on the first round’s record turnout, which drew nearly 63% participation despite social distancing measures and expectations that a second round would be necessary.

An advocate of women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, a supporter of stronger relations with the EU, and an outspoken critic of the dominant PiS’s controversial judicial reforms, Trzaskowski has positioned himself as a candidate of progressive change for Poland, a stark contrast to Duda, who recently called the LGBTQ+ movement an “ideology” worse than communism. If Trzaskowski pulls out a narrow victory, expect him to use his presidential veto to halt the judicial reforms of the PiS—which currently maintains a slim majority in the Polish lower house and is outnumbered in the Senate—at least until parliamentary elections in 2023.

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