Duda declares victory in Polish presidential election, with polls too close to call

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Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, of the center-right opposition platform of the Civic Platform (PO), said Sunday at a rally in the city that the election had been close as planned, but once the votes counted “I’m sure we will win, that’s for sure. ”

According to an exit poll presented by the public TV channel TVP and carried out by Ipsos, Duda had 50.4% of the votes when the polling stations closed on Sunday. Trzaskowski obtained 49.6%. The exit poll estimated a voter turnout of 68.9%, the highest in 25 years for a presidential election.

The Ipsos exit survey has a margin of error of two percentage points for each candidate. Official preliminary results are expected on Monday.

Speaking at a rally in Pultusk on Sunday, Duda said he accepts victory based on exit polls.

“Thank you to all my Polish compatriots who voted for me and who voted. I want to thank you with all my heart because this participation shows how much you care about our country ”, he declared.Sunday evening, Duda invited Trzaskowski to the Presidential Palace to “shake hands”.

In response, Trzaskowski thanked Duda on Twitter for the invitation, but added, “I think the most appropriate time will be after the election results are announced.”

The Polish National Election Commission (PKW) has announced that it will hold a press conference when the results are available, likely on Monday.

Duda’s victory – if confirmed by the final results – would be viewed by the ruling Nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS) as a validation of the populist policies he has pursued since coming to power in 2015.

Electoral issues

During the campaign, Duda sought to mobilize his more conservative, predominantly rural base, appealing to traditional Catholic values ​​and promising to maintain popular social welfare policies, such as a child allowance and a higher retirement age. low.

His focus on the issue of LGBTQ rights – at one point in describing them as an “ideology” worse than communism in the Soviet era – highlighted the deep cultural divisions in this 38 million d central European nation. ‘inhabitants.

Duda’s re-election could help PiS consolidate power after losing control of Poland’s upper house, the Senate, to the opposition during last October’s legislative elections. His ruling coalition still tightly controls the lower house, the Sejm.

Radical government reforms in the courts and his position on LGBTQ issues, supported by Duda, have already put Poland on a collision course with the European Union.

But with Duda in the chair for another term, the PiS – led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski – should continue on the same path.

Duda has established close ties to US President Donald Trump since welcoming him to Warsaw in 2017. He received a boost from Trump last month when he became the first foreign leader to visit the White House in months to fight coronaviruses.

Trump has suggested that some of the US troops he plans to withdraw from Germany may travel to Poland.

Global impact

The result of the election could have repercussions beyond Poland.

The country is one of the main beneficiaries of EU funding and the bloc as an institution is popular with Poles. A Pew Research Center survey published last October found that 84% of respondents in Poland had a favorable opinion of the European Union.

But if the Polish government goes further to weaken the rule of law, in the opinion of EU leaders, its position in the bloc could be damaged.

The European Commission has already launched several infringement procedures, including Article 7, on Poland’s radical reforms in the judicial system, which the PiS insists on the need to eliminate corruption.

President Donald Trump approved Duda in the days leading up to the first ballot.

In campaigning, Duda argued that the very close cooperation between the president and the government was in the interest of Poland and should continue.

Trzaskowski told CNN before the elections that Poland needed a “balance of power where the President of the Republic can cooperate with the government as needed, for example when it comes to restoring good relations with the country.” European Union, but one that is ready to veto legislation, for example that interferes with the rule of law. ”

Poland should once again be a constructive member of the European Union rather than being marginalized, he said.

“This is why it is very important to re-establish good relations with our closest neighbors. And, you know, we have the same security goals, even with this Conservative government, in terms of our relations with Russia, with our neighbors. But we just have to be strong and influential and that is the goal of the President of the Republic. “

CNN’s Susannah Cullinane contributed to this report.

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