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Poles to vote on June 28 in presidential election

By AFP - Jun 03,2020 - Last updated at Jun 03,2020

Elzbieta Witek, speaker of the Polish parliament, gives a statement on Wednesday in Warsaw to announce June 28 as date of the upcoming presidential election (AFP photo)

WARSAW — Poles will go to the polls on June 28 in a presidential election delayed by the coronavirus, the parliament speaker said on Wednesday, as surveys showed a liberal opposition candidate could oust the incumbent backed by the right-wing government.

President Andrzej Duda, long considered the hands-down election frontrunner, appeared this week to be losing support as the economic hardship triggered by the coronavirus lockdown began to bite.

Backed by the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) Party, Duda could even lose to liberal candidate and current Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, according to the latest opinion polls.

"I'm calling the presidential election... for Sunday, June 28," Parliament speaker Elzbieta Witek told reporters on Wednesday.

She echoed the date floated last week by her political ally, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the powerful leader of the governing right-wing PiS Party who is widely regarded as Poland's defacto decision maker.

The election had originally been scheduled for May 10 but was pushed back at the last minute by Kaczynski amid a political crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Rule of law 

 

A latecomer to the race, Trzaskowski must collect 100,000 signatures backing his candidacy within the next seven days. 

The other nine candidates, including Duda, have been allowed to use the public backing and registrations they secured for the postponed May 10 ballot.

A run-off will likely be held on July 12 as no contender is expected to win more than 50 per cent support for an outright first-round victory.

The PiS government and the liberal opposition had spent weeks in a bitter stalemate over how to proceed with the ballot, which had been mired in issues ranging from health and practical concerns to constitutional and democracy questions. 

The stalemate was resolved on Tuesday when parliament adopted rules allowing both postal and conventional voting to mitigate the risk of infection during the pandemic.

Poland, a country of 38 million people with limited coronavirus testing, has recorded 24,545 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 1,102 deaths, according to official data.

The controversy surrounding the election came within the broader context of long-standing EU concerns about democratic standards in Poland.

The European Commission has launched four infringement procedures against PiS-authored judicial reforms, which it says test democracy and the rule of law by undermining judicial independence.

 

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