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 the incumbent president, who is seeking another five years in office.
The country’s governing conservatives last fall won parliamentary elections for a second consecutive term and are hoping to keep their grip on power by maintaining control of the presidency.
With 100 percent of the ballots counted, incumbent Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, won the first round of Poland's presidential contest after garnering 43.5 percent of the vote, electoral officials said on Tuesday morning.
Poland's incumbent President Andrzej Duda addresses a re-election rally on Monday. Photo: PAP/Szymon Łabiński
Meanwhile, centrist Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, a former government minister, was runner-up with 30.46 percent, according to the National Electoral Commission (PKW).
Opposition challenger Rafał Trzaskowski is congratulated by supporters on election night. Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak
Celebrity journalist Szymon Hołownia finished third with 13.87 percent.
Far-right hopeful Krzysztof Bosak came in fourth with 6.78 percent, ahead of agrarian leader Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz in fifth place with 2.36 percent, according to the official election results.
Leftist Robert Biedroń finished the race sixth with 2.22 percent, the election 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 64.51 percent, Sylwester Marciniak, head of the National Electoral Commission, told reporters.
Duda, who became president in 2015, and Trzaskowski, who was elected mayor of Warsaw in October 2018, will now battle it out in a second round of voting on July 12.
Photo: PAP/Mateusz Marek
Under a set of rules approved by parliament and signed into law earlier this month, Poland’s June 28 presidential 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 pointed to a slightly smaller gap between the two runoff contenders, putting Duda's first-round support at 41.8 percent vs. 30.4 percent for Trzaskowski.
Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info