Polish presidential poll could reshape relations with EU and domestic agenda
Incumbent Andrzej Duda, 48, has vowed to be a guardian of PiS’s economic programmes, which include generous social spending, and its pledge to safeguard traditional family values in the predominantly Catholic country.Updated: Jun 28, 2020 09:53 IST
Poland holds a closely-fought presidential election on Sunday that could reshape its tense relationship with the EU and determine the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government’s ability to make progress on its socially conservative agenda.
Incumbent Andrzej Duda, 48, has vowed to be a guardian of PiS’s economic programmes, which include generous social spending, and its pledge to safeguard traditional family values in the predominantly Catholic country.
“We don’t see the same standard of living as in western Europe and this is what I would like to achieve,” Duda said in the southwestern town of Rybnik on Friday during one of his last campaign stops before the election, delayed by seven weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A PiS ally, Duda has rejected some Western influences including sexual education programmes that he says can perpetuate “LGBT ideology”, which he argues is worse than communism.
His main challenger, centrist Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, also 48, seeks to provide a progressive alternative, promising to fight Poland’s isolation in the EU after five years of conflict between the government and Brussels.
Since PiS came to power in 2015, the European Commission, the EU executive, has launched an unprecedented legal action against Warsaw following criticism that Poland is subverting democratic norms by politicising its courts.
As mayor, Trzaskowski has proposed sexual education programmes in line with World Health Organization recommendations for schools, a move criticised by PiS as an effort to sexualise children.
Polling stations open at 7.00 a.m. (0500 GMT) and close at 9.00 p.m., when exit polls will be published. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the votes, the two with the biggest share will compete in a second round on July 12.
Poland imposes an “election silence” starting at midnight the day before the election which bans discussing opinion polls and campaigning.
Poland’s presidency carries some responsibilities in defense and foreign affairs as well as the right to veto legislation.
If Duda fails to secure a second five-year mandate, his successor could hamper the government’s ability to deepen its justice reforms by vetoing laws or refusing to nominate judges picked by PiS allies.
This would likely fuel tensions within PiS’ fragile parliamentary coalition and could force the government of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to govern as a minority cabinet. An early national election can’t be ruled out.
Nine other candidates are competing, including independent Catholic journalist Szymon Holownia, leftist Robert Biedron - Poland’s most prominent openly gay politician - and Krzysztof Bosak of the far-right Confederation party.