Poland president Andrzej Duda leads in presidential election, exit poll shows

28 June 2020, 09:48 | Updated: 29 June 2020, 03:44

Polish President Andrzej Duda is leading with the most votes in the country's presidential election, an exit poll shows.

However, he still appears to be short of the 50% required for an outright win in the first round and could face Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski in a run-off on 12 July.

Mr Duda won 41.8% and Mr Trzaskowski won 30.4%, according to the projection by the Ipsos polling firm.

Poland's state electoral commission has said it would release the final official results by Wednesday evening.

Mr Duda, a 48-year-old conservative backed by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), is running against 10 other candidates as he aims for a second five-year term.

The incumbent has vowed to continue to back PiS's economic programmes, which include generous social spending, and its policies to protect traditional family values in the predominantly Catholic country.

Since PiS came to power in 2015, the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has taken legal action against Warsaw over allegations Poland is undermining democratic expectations by politicising courts.

If Mr Duda, a former PiS government junior minister and member of parliament, does not stay on as president, the ruling party could lose its near-monopoly on political power in Poland.

His main challenger, Mr Trzaskowski, is backed by the centrist Civic Platform party.

Mr Trzaskowski has promised to keep Law and Justice's popular social welfare spending programmes but said he will restore constitutional norms.

He was late to enter the race, and only did so after an election originally scheduled for 10 May was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Duda's once strong support began to slip when coronavirus lockdown restrictions were lifted and other candidates were able to campaign.

The current president promised to defend traditional values while saying Poland would raise living standards to Western European levels.

He also positioned himself against same-sex marriage and adoption, and described LGBT rights as dangerous "ideology."

The policies he supports, many of which have been advocated by senior figures in the PiS, have resulted in the party being labelled populist and nationalist.

Poland's presidency has some responsibilities for defence and foreign affairs and can veto legislation.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who was appointed by Mr Duda, has a fragile parliamentary coalition and the election of a figure backed by another political party could result in the government of Mr Morawiecki governing as a minority cabinet.

In that event, an early national election would be a possibility.

Poland bans discussing opinion polls and campaigning after midnight on polling day.