Polls open for Polish presidential clash

Warsaw, Jun 28 (efe-epa).- Polling stations opened in Poland on Sunday amid strict hygiene and social distancing measures for a presidential ballot that has pitched the ruling nationalists against pro-european liberals.

This is one of the first elections to be held in Europe since the pandemic emerged and Poles have been given the option of a postal vote to minimize the risk of contagion.

Despite this, authorities said only 13,000 voters in the capital would use this option.

Shortly after 7. 00 am local time, polling stations opened and the first voters trickled in.

On Friday, National Electoral Commission chief Magdalena Pietrzak told 30 million Poles who are eligible to vote that masks and social distancing would be mandatory, local media reported.

Voting will end at 9.00 pm and results are not expected to be published until Monday morning.

According to the most recent polls, published on Friday, incumbent President Andrzej Duda, who is an independent candidate but has links to the ruling nationalists Law and Justice Party (PiS) is in a 10 point lead.

If he fails to secure 50 percent of the votes, as predicted, a second round of elections will take place on 12 July where his main opponent, centre-right Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski could have options to win.

In third and fourth place, but at a great distance, are journalist Szymon Holownia and the far right candidate Krzysztof Bosak, among a total of eleven candidates.

According to a survey by Centre for Public Opinion Reasearch released on Friday, participation could be unusually high and stand at around 85 percent in stark contrast to the last parliamentary elections in October 2019 when only 60 percent turned out to vote.

Even though coronavirus has rattled the global economy and labor market, the pandemic has not topped political agenda during campaigning.

The election has confronted supporters of the nationalist and eurosceptic of the ruling PiS party, which defends traditional values, with a centrist approach calling for the restoration of more freedoms and a Poland embedded in Europe.

European observers will be following the election closely as Duda’s allies have clashed with European Union officials over judicial reforms that critics say undermine the rule of law. EFE-EPA


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