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

Andrzej Duda is allied with the nationalist Law and Justice-led government

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 from 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, in line with the first exit poll, which pollster Ipsos said had a margin of error of two percentage points.

But two further polls demonstrate a wider margin involving the pair.

A 2nd poll – combining exit poll data with partial official results – suggested Mr Duda received 50.8% of the vote, while a third showed 51% per cent, with a margin of error of 1 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 very 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.

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Poland has been called the worst country in the EU for LGBT rights

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 part of Donald Tusk’s liberal Civic Platform government, that he won the capital’s race for mayor in 2018 promising “Warsaw for All”.

He said Polish voters would not have yet 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.

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Trzaskowski: Polish democracy is ‘under attack’

President Duda has widespread support in rural areas and the east of the nation, 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 seriously to win outright.

The election was due to occur in May, when Mr Duda was higher in the polls and stood a better potential for winning in the first round.

Although the coronavirus pandemic hadn’t yet peaked, the government was desperate for the May vote to proceed. It in the course of time 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.

Voters wore masks due to the coronavirus pandemic

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