Politics

Poland’s presidential elections: nationalism vs liberalism

Warsaw, Jun 26 (efe-epa).- Poland will hold presidential elections on Sunday in what is set to be a closely-fought contest between nationalism and liberalism.

Incumbent leader Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling nationalist party Law and Justice (PiS), was the frontrunner in the polls but has recently seen his popularity slide.

His main rival, liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, of the main centre-right opposition party Civic Platform (PO), has made significant gains in recent weeks.

The pair are now neck and neck in the polls for the elections, which were originally due to take place on 10 May but were rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The country was plunged into political turmoil when PiS called off the vote four days before it was scheduled to take place.

Poland was under lockdown measures at that time to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

These will be the first presidential elections in a European Union member state during the pandemic.

Duda started as the clear favourite for reelection after five years in office but Trzaskowski has been gaining momentum, making it more likely that a second round of balloting could take place.

Another vote would be held on 12 July if no candidate secures more than 50 per cent of the votes.

Both candidates are 48 years old and former MEPs but they represent very different visions for Poland.

On one side would be an ultra-nationalist and strictly Catholic stance and on the other would be a liberal centrist with closer ties to the European Union.

Duda is supported by PiS leader and strongman Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The capital’s mayor is backed by the liberal opposition led by former prime minister and European Council president Donald Tusk.

A re-election for Duda would also bolster controversial reforms PiS is trying to pass as it would give the party an absolute majority in the Sejm, federal parliament.

If Trzaskowski wins he could act as a counterbalance against the authoritarian tendencies of the ruling party, which Brussels has been trying to contain.

Polls have predicted Duda will take between 40 and 45% of the votes, compared to 30 or 35% for Trzaskowski.

They are the main contenders but not the only ones running for the presidency.

There are 11 candidates in the running for the vote, which will see almost 30 million Poles called to the polls. EFE-EPA

gc/rb/eld

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