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English Section

Record 387,000 Poles abroad register for presidential vote: deputy FM

25.06.2020 09:00
A record 387,000 Poles living abroad have registered to vote by absentee ballot in Sunday’s presidential election, a deputy Polish foreign minister has said, citing a final estimate.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk holds a news conference in Warsaw on Wednesday.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk holds a news conference in Warsaw on Wednesday.Photo: PAP/Wojciech Olkuśnik

Piotr Wawrzyk told reporters on Wednesday that the figure was roughly twice as high as in the country's previous presidential vote five years ago and that it included about 343,000 people who would be voting by mail.

In 21 countries—the United States, Canada, Australia, Britain, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Argentina, Morocco, Colombia, Thailand, and the Philippines—Polish citizens will only be able to vote by postal ballot, state news agency PAP has reported.

Meanwhile, Poles living in Peru, Chile, Kuwait, Venezuela and Afghanistan as well as those working in North Korea will be unable to cast their votes in the June 28 national election, according to the foreign ministry in Warsaw.

Following a decision by Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, officials went about creating a total of 169 voting districts abroad for Poland’s presidential election.

In 74 of these districts, Polish citizens will only be able to vote by postal ballot.

Wawrzyk told a news conference earlier this month that Polish absentee voters in countries such as the United States, Britain and Germany would have no other option but vote by mail, following decisions by local authorities.

Those decisions were beyond the Polish foreign ministry's control, he said.

In Britain alone, more than 130,000 Polish expats, including around 77,000 in London, have registered to vote in the upcoming presidential election, according to the Polish foreign ministry.

“In the elections five years ago, the total number of those registered to vote abroad was 197,000, so now we have about twice as many registered,” Wawrzyk said on Wednesday.

Eleven contenders are running in Poland’s presidential election, which is scheduled for Sunday, June 28.

If none of the candidates wins more than 50 percent the vote, under Polish election rules a second round will be held two weeks later, on July 12.

Under a set of rules approved by parliament and signed into law earlier this month, the election will be conducted via a mixed system of postal and traditional in-person voting.

Citizens who want to vote by postal ballot had to inform officials by June 16. Those who aim to vote by mail abroad had until June 15 to notify a consul.

Conservative incumbent Andrzej Duda, who has been president since 2015, is seeking re-election and appears to be the front-runner in the race.

Duda’s rivals in the presidential race include middle-of-the-road politician Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, leader of the rural-based Polish People’s Party (PSL); leftist Robert Biedroń; far-right hopeful Krzysztof Bosak; and celebrity journalist Szymon Hołownia.

Poland's main opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform (PO), in mid-May chose Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski as its new pick for head of state to replace deputy parliamentary Speaker Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska.

The Polish presidential vote was originally scheduled for May 10, but failed to go ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic.


Source: PAP