Public opinion polls in Poland’s presidential elections suggest that the current president, Andrzej Duda, finished first, but without enough votes to win immediately.
If confirmed, Duda, a conservative, will face Warsaw’s liberal mayor Rafal Trzaskowski in the second round in two weeks.
Polls suggest that Duda got just under 42% of the vote and Trzaskowski just over 30%.
Participation was high, despite coronavirus restrictions and social distance.
President Duda is an ally of the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, and if he loses, the opposition could push for major changes in Polish politics.
The president has the power to veto legislation, so Duda’s re-election would be beneficial to PiS, of which he used to be a member.
In the meantime, Trzaskowski has promised to heal cracks with the European Union. Duda’s allies came into conflict with the bloc over controversial reforms to the judiciary and the media.
Trzaskowski rose quickly in the polls after joining the race in May. Formerly a member of Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform government, he won the mayoral race in the capital in 2018, promising “Warsaw for All”.
“This is a turning point. A lot will really depend on that decision,” said Polish anti-communist hero Lech Walesa when he voted in the northern port of Gdansk.
Last week, Duda traveled to Washington and received support from President Donald Trump.
“He’s doing a great job,” said President Trump, in what was widely seen as a domestic boost for Duda. “The people of Poland think about his world.”
Poland’s election was due to take place in May, when Duda was higher in the polls and had a greater chance of winning in the first round.
Although the epidemic has not yet peaked, the government was desperate for the May vote to go ahead. He eventually backed off when a junior coalition partner joined the opposition saying that PiS was putting politics before public health.