Poland's Duda holds slim lead in presidential election, exit polls suggest


13th July, 2020 10:52:46 printer

Poland's Duda holds slim lead in presidential election, exit polls suggest

Poland's incumbent President Andrzej Duda holds a slim lead after Sunday's presidential election, according to three exit polls.

A final exit poll on Monday showed Mr Duda, an ally of the conservative government, with 51% of the vote.

He was pitted against the socially liberal Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski.

The vote has been widely seen as a battle for the country's future as well as its strained relations with the European Union.

Mr Trzaskowski received 49.6% of the vote, according to the first exit poll, which pollster Ipsos said had a margin of error of two percentage points.

But two further polls have shown a wider margin between the pair.

A second poll - combining exit poll data with partial official results - suggested Mr Duda received 50.8% of the vote, while a third showed 51% percent, with a margin of error of one percentage point.

Official results are expected later on Monday. It looks set to be the closest presidential election in Poland since the fall of communism in 1989, the BBC's Warsaw correspondent Adam Easton reports.

"I want to thank everyone that voted for me," Mr Duda said shortly after the first exit poll was announced.

Mr Trzaskowski told his supporters: "The result has probably never been so close in Polish history, we've never felt the power in our vote so much."

Mr Duda said turnout was nearly 70%, which, if confirmed by election officials, would be a record high for a presidential election in the country.

A win for Mr Duda is expected to herald controversial changes to the judiciary and continued opposition to abortion and gay rights.

He came under fire during the election, including for a speech in which he said LGBT rights were an "ideology" more destructive than communism.

Mr Trzaskowski, meanwhile, has backed a more progressive agenda and an active role in the European Union. The liberal politician rose fast in the polls after joining the race in May. Previously a member of Donald Tusk's liberal Civic Platform government, he won the capital's race for mayor in 2018 promising "Warsaw for All".

He said Polish voters would never have another chance to change Poland's direction.

"All we need is to count the votes. The night will be tense but I am certain that when the votes are counted, we will win," Mr Trzaskowski told supporters on Sunday.

President Duda has widespread support in rural areas and the east of the country, while his rival is popular in larger cities and regions on the German border.

Mr Duda topped the first round of voting last month with a convincing lead but fell short of the 50% needed to win outright.

The election had been due to take place in May, when Mr Duda was higher in the polls and stood a better chance of winning in the first round.

Although the coronavirus pandemic had not yet peaked, the government was desperate for the May vote to go ahead. It eventually backed down when a junior coalition partner joined the opposition in saying the governing nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party were putting politics before public health.