On Sunday the Poles will elect their president for the next five years. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the votes in the first round of voting there will be a run-off vote on 12 July. The incumbent Andrzej Duda, who is close to the ruling national conservative party “Law and Justice” (PiS), leads the opinion polls with around 42%. Duda is considered as the election favourite. In recent weeks, however, his popularity has declined significantly. On the other hand, the largest opposition alliance, the liberal-conservative “Citizens’ Coalition” (KO), with its candidate Rafał Trzaskowski seems to be on the upswing. According to some polls, both Trzaskowski and the independent pro-European candidate of the centre, Szymon Hołownia, would narrowly win against Duda in the second round of voting.
The presidential election was originally planned for 10 May, but could not take place due to the Corona pandemic. The postponement of the election was a severe blow to the PiS, whose candidate Duda has since dropped by about 20 % in polls – not least because of the announced candidacy of Trzaskowski.
New Candidate of the Citizens’ Coalition
In mid-May, the 48-year-old popular Warsaw mayor Trzaskowski replaced the previously unsuccessful KO candidate Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, who withdrew her candidacy after the election postponement.
Trzaskowski started his campaign energetically and confidently. Within a few days he collected more than 1.6 million signatures for his candidacy and quickly became the biggest challenger to the incumbent Duda. According to the latest polls, he is in second place with about 29% and far ahead of the third-placed Hołownia (about 10%).
Within the liberal-conservative camp, Trzaskowski is regarded as a high-profile socio-political liberal who advocates LGBT rights and a clear separation between state and church in this strictly Catholic country. Within the framework of a vigorous anti-campaign, the PiS is now trying to present Trzaskowski’s liberal views as a threat to Polish traditions. For example, Duda recently signed the so-called Family Charter, in which he calls for special protection of the family and children of “LGBT ideology”.
As president, Trzaskowski wants to focus on local investment or equal opportunities in the labour market. He also wants to establish a new public television station instead of the state TVP, which is often referred to as a propaganda tool of the PiS.
What Course is Poland Taking?
The election would be the last opportunity for a long time to obstruct the rise of PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński to absolute power. Over the past five years, he has managed to gain control of most of the key institutions in the country: from the presidency, through the Polish lower house of parliament and government, to a substantial part of the judiciary and public media.
As president, Trzaskowski would exercise much-needed supervision over the government. The Polish President would have a right of veto and thus direct influence on legislation. To this end, he appoints supreme judges. However, the election polls show that nothing has been decided yet. What is important is whether Trzaskowski will be able to convince some right-centred moderate Catholic voters.
Project Manager, FNF Central Europe & the Baltic States