Australia

Polish President wins knife-edge election

Warsaw: Poland's incumbent Andrzej Duda has won the presidential election, results from over 99% of polling stations show, with remaining uncounted votes unlikely to sway the final outcome, the National Electoral Commission said on Monday.

Duda, an ally of Poland's ruling nationalists, is expected to help the Law and Justice (PiS) party continue its reforms of the judiciary, which have been criticised by the European Union, and generous social spending programmes.

Incumbent Andrzej Duda, left, and his wife Agata Kornhauser Duda cast their votes in Poland's presidential election on Sunday.

Incumbent Andrzej Duda, left, and his wife Agata Kornhauser Duda cast their votes in Poland's presidential election on Sunday.Credit:Getty

According to the latest results, Duda received 51.21% of the vote, while opposition candidate Rafal Trzaskowski got 48.79% of the vote. The difference in votes between the candidates amounted to around 500,000.

The re-election of Duda, an ally of the ruling nationalists Law and Justice, is crucial if the government is to implement in full its conservative agenda, including judicial reforms that the EU says are undemocratic.

Duda's challenger, liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, had pledged to repair Poland's relations with Europe and use the presidential veto power to hold back any legislation that would subvert the rule of law.

Loading

Opinion polls before the election had shown the candidates, both 48, neck and neck, with Trzaskowski having closed the gap on Duda, who initially looked like a clear favourite.

Backed by the government, Duda ran an acrimonious campaign, laced with homophobic language, attacks on independent media and accusations levied against Trzaskowski that he would serve foreign interests instead of Poland's.

Duda, a devout believer, had painted himself as a defender of Catholic values and of the government's generous social benefit programs that have transformed life for many, especially in the poorer rural regions of the country.

He appeared conciliatory on Sunday. "If anyone was offended by anything I did or said in the last five years, not just during the campaign, please accept my apology," he told supporters in Pultusk, a small town north of the capital.

The mayor of Warsaw, Rafal Trzaskowski, also claimed victory in the Sunday election, with official results too close to call.

The mayor of Warsaw, Rafal Trzaskowski, also claimed victory in the Sunday election, with official results too close to call.Credit:Bloomberg

Borys Budka, the head of Trzaskowski's PO party, said it was "a scandal" that some voters abroad did not receive their mail-in ballots on time. "This is a great failure of the state, regardless of who wins," Budka told private broadcaster TVN24.

The election was the first time all voters had a choice to cast ballots by mail, a change in rules necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

For many religious conservatives in Poland, Trzaskowski came to represent the threats facing traditional values when he pledged to introduce education about LGBT rights in the city's schools.

The archbishop of Krakow, Marek Jedraszewski, told worshippers in the southern city of Czestochowa on Saturday that Poland faced a "lethal danger" from ideologies that seek to undermine the traditional family structure and corrupt children.

Loading

Trzaskowski says he seeks a more tolerant Poland and has criticised the Law and Justice party's rhetoric, vowing to abolish state news channel TVP Info, which critics say gave overt support to Duda in its programming.

"In politics, you should have opponents, not enemies," Trzaskowski said on Sunday. "They thought they had full power, but today they have fear in their eyes."

The election is being closely watched in Brussels.

Most Viewed in World

Loading

Football news:

Valencia presented three uniforms for the 2020/21 season
Ter Stegen agreed to sign a 5-year contract with Barca
Bale was not included in real's bid for the match with Manchester City in the Champions League
Arsenal have offered Willian a 3-year contract
Aurier agreed to move to Milan. Tottenham want 20 million euros for a defender
Can-Casillas: One of the greatest is leaving the stage. You have always been an example, my friend!
Atletico President: Simeone is great. He constantly brings victories and titles