Polish President Duda narrowly edges Trzaskowski to retain office

Poland’s incumbent President Andrzej Duda has narrowly beaten challenger Rafal Trzaskowski in Sunday’s presidential vote.

The National Electoral Commission said Mr Duda had won 51.2% of the votes.

It is Poland’s slimmest presidential election victory since the end of communism in 1989.

One of the major issues of the election was the future of the country’s strained relations with the European Union.

Mr Duda is a social conservative allied with the government led by the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, while Mr Trzaskowski is the socially liberal mayor of Warsaw.

Mr Duda’s win is expected to lead to further controversial reforms to the judiciary and continued opposition to abortion and gay rights.

During the campaign Mr Duda came under heavy criticism after he said LGBT rights were an “ideology” more destructive than communism.

At a press conference on Monday morning, the heads of the electoral commission said they were not sure when complete results would be announced, as some polling stations had yet to submit their counts.

But with 99% of all constituencies reporting, those tallies were not expected to affect the result. Turnout was reportedly 68.2%.

The opposition Civic Platform (PO) group – which backed Mr Trzaskowski – told Reuters news agency it was collecting information on voting “irregularities” after the polls closed on Sunday, including reports of Poles abroad not receiving their voting packages in time to take part in the election.

Analysts believe the close result could lead to court challenges.

“I think there will certainly be electoral protests and I think the whole issue will end up in the Supreme Court,” Warsaw University political scientist Anna Materska-Sosnowska told AFP news agency.

The election had been due to take place in May, when Mr Duda was higher in the polls and stood a better chance of winning in the first round.

Although the coronavirus pandemic had not yet peaked, the government was desperate for the May vote to go ahead.

It eventually backed down when a junior coalition partner joined the opposition in saying the Law and Justice party was putting politics before public health.

Additional reporting by BBC

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