Today, Poles will decide the victor of their Presidential election. Incumbent President Andrzej Duda of Law and Justice (PiS) faces Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski of Civic Platform (PO). President Duda is looking for a second five-year term. What’s at stake is the direction of where Poland is heading as a country.
The first round of the Polish Election took place on the 28th of June. President Duda won 44% of the vote, while Trzaskowski gathered 30%. On the surface, that might indicate that Duda should be alright for today’s runoff. However, all of the other candidates that ran in round one have endorsed Trzaskowski.
Recent opinion polling has shown just how tight this race is; POLITICO has both candidates tied at 50%. Poland also has huge regional variances at play. The western part of the country will likely vote heavily for Duda; this is because the PiS base is located there. The east, which is more urban and educated, will likely vote heavily for Trzaskowski.
Incumbent President Andrzej Duda is seeking a second term in that office. Duda worked for the late Lech Kaczyński, who was President of Poland until his death in 2010. He served in the Sejm before winning the office in 2015 against Bronisław Komorowski. Poland’s governing United Right coalition is supporting Duda.
Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski only entered the race after the original PO candidate Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska dropped out. He was a Business Minister under former Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
What’s at Stake
Poland has been a hotbed of controversy in recent years. The Governing Law & Justice party has passed controversial changes to the judiciary and the media. European leaders have widely condemned these changes, which are seen as an intrusion of Poland’s post-Solidarity Constitution.
President Duda has tried to argue that he vetoed the more extreme elements of the proposals. Duda’s campaign has also used the issue of LGBT rights to the fold. He has said that the LGBT rights movement is worse than communism and he has tried to shore up the religious vote in one of the most Catholic countries in the world with that issue.
Trzaskowksi’s campaign has run on what could be called a compassionate conservative campaign. He has called for lower taxes, more money in schools, more social funding, and closer relations with Europe.
The limits of right-wing populism are at stake today. There have been signs, like the Slovakian Presidential Election in 2019, where a centrist won against a populist. This election is also key to what Poland itself is heading as a country. If Trazaskowksi wins, it might be seen as showing that PiS may finally reach a limit. Reelection of President Duda, meanwhile, would strengthen PiS to impose more changes to the Judiciary and other elements Poland’s Government.