Exit polling shows that Poland’s presidential runoff election is too close to call.
The battle between the conservative, populist incumbent President Andrzej Duda and the liberal, pro-Europe mayor of Warsaw Rafal Trzaskowski is down to less than a 1 percent difference, with Duda holding 50.4 percent to Trzaskowski’s 49.6 percent of the votes. The Ipsos Institute, which conducted the exit poll, said Sunday the difference is within the margin of error, meaning it’s not yet possible to say who won.
Turnout for the election was 52.1 percent, up 4 points from the first round of voting on June 28, the State Electoral Commission said. The election was planned for May but health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic prompted the delay.
“This is a civic duty but also a privilege because this is a very important election,” Trzaskowski said after voting. “I hope the turnout will really be high.”
The first round of voting saw Duda win 43.5 percent to Trzaskowski’s 30.5 percent of the votes, but the winner must have a simple majority to win.
The result will determine which one of two starkly different paths Poland might follow over the next few years.
If reelected, Duda’s right-wing Law and Justice Party will be able to maintain its hold on almost all key instruments of power in the nation. A win for the challenger would see him in power to veto laws pushed through by the conservatives and help ease tensions with European officials.
“We should vote because otherwise we have no right to complain about our politics,” said Eugeniusz Kowalski, 67, a retired office clerk, after voting in Warsaw.
Duda and his party won popularity through a welfare program that improved the lives of many impoverished families, particularly those with children and retirees, but they have also drawn criticism from European Union (EU) leaders for supposedly using political influence on the justice system and media in Poland, all while deepening rifts on urban liberals and the LGBT community.
Trzaskowski vowed to close the social rifts and to continue the benefits policy. His support is strongest in larger cities and among more highly educated people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.