Poles on Sunday headed to the ballot box to vote in a delayed presidential election amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Polling stations were open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. for voters to elect a head of state from among 11 candidates, including incumbent President Andrzej Duda, who is seeking another five years in office.
The country’s governing conservatives last fall won parliamentary elections for a second consecutive term and were hoping to keep their grip on power by maintaining control of the presidency.
With 99.78 percent of the ballots counted by Monday morning, incumbent President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, had 43.67 percent of the vote, electoral officials said.
Meanwhile, centrist Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, a former government minister, had 30.34 percent, according to the National Electoral Commission (PKW).
Opposition challenger Rafał Trzaskowski. Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak
Celebrity journalist Szymon Hołownia was in third place with 13.85 percent.
Far-right hopeful Krzysztof Bosak was fourth with 6.75 percent, ahead of agrarian leader Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz in fifth place with 2.37 percent, according to the partial election results.
Leftist Robert Biedroń finished the race sixth with 2.21 percent, the partial returns also showed.
The five other candidates—entrepreneur-turned-politician Marek Jakubiak, businessman Paweł Tanajno, politician and social activist Waldemar Witkowski, self-employed business owner Stanisław Żółtek, and academic Mirosław Piotrowski—each received less than 0.3 percent of the vote, state news agency PAP reported.
Turnout was a record 64.4 percent, Sylwester Marciniak, head of the National Electoral Commission, told reporters.
Poland's National Electoral Commission holds a news conference on Monday morning. Photo: PAP/Mateusz Marek
Duda, who became president in 2015, and Trzaskowski, who was elected mayor of Warsaw in October 2018, are now set to face each other in a second round of voting on July 12.
The full official results of Sunday's vote are expected to be announced by the middle of this week.
Under a set of rules approved by parliament and signed into law earlier this month, the election was conducted via a mixed system of postal and traditional in-person voting.
Polish election rules specify that if no presidential candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote in a first-round contest, a second round is held two weeks later.
A record 387,000 Poles living abroad registered to vote in the presidential election by absentee ballot, according to a Polish deputy foreign minister.
The presidential vote was originally scheduled for May 10, but failed to go ahead amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a major re-election campaign speech, the incumbent president last month summed up his five years in office and outlined his second-term vision for Poland.
His rival, Trzaskowski, is a prominent opposition politician as well as a political scientist specializing in European studies. He was a European lawmaker from 2009 to 2013. He also served as Poland's administration and digitization minister from 2013 to 2014 and worked as a deputy foreign minister from 2014 to 2015.
An exit poll released on Sunday evening had an initial forecast of 41.8 percent for Duda and 30.4 percent for Trzaskowski.
Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info