The ruling coalition parties in Poland have agreed to postpone Sunday’s presidential election due to the deadly coronavirus epidemic.
The nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS) wanted the vote to continue so that Andrzej Duda, 47, would be re-elected.
But the deal with the coalition’s junior partner and the opposition said PiS puts political gain before public health.
The election will now be postponed to an “as soon as possible” date and will be a postal ballot only.
The election calendar has plunged Poland into a serious political crisis in addition to the current health crisis, reports Adam Easton of the BBC in Warsaw.
International and Polish election observers have also expressed concern that the polls will not be sufficiently transparent and fair since the candidates have suspended their campaign due to the blockage, said our correspondent.
Poland has nearly 15,000 confirmed infections and more than 700 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
Covid-19 figures are lower than many Western European countries, but the Polish health minister warned that the cases had not yet peaked.
Under President Duda, Poland made profound and controversial changes in society, including the judiciary and the media.
Opposition leaders fear that PiS – which supports the outgoing president – will seek victory to continue this program.
Duda has been way ahead in recent opinion polls. Opponents say he enjoys regular coverage on public television, when the normal election campaign was impossible.
What is PiS?
The socially conservative PiS has increased its majority
in the lower house in the legislative elections last October.
During his tenure in government, the party clashed with the EU and the opposition over its reforms to the Polish judiciary and its stance on gay rights.
In 2018, PiS changed the law so that Parliament can select members of a national council that appoints judges. And
controversial new measures adopted in December facilitate dismissal of judges
who criticize the continuation of judicial reforms.
The Polish Supreme Court even warned
the country may have to leave the EU due to the changes