Poles go out to vote for new President

Voters queue while awaiting the opening of a polling stations in Szczecin, Poland, 28 June 2020. Voting in the election of the President of the Republic of Poland began at 7am on 28 June. EPA-EFE/MARCIN BIELECKI POLAND OUT

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Poland’s right-wing president, Andrzej Duda, is fighting for a second term in an election Sunday that will test whether he was helped by a campaign that depicted LGBT rights as a dangerous “ideology” and an unconventional last-minute reception by President Donald Trump at the White House.

It will be another electoral test for populist leaders in Europe amid the coronavirus pandemic. Last weekend, Serbia’s autocratic right-wing president, Aleksandar Vucic, strengthened his hold on power there in a parliamentary election that was boycotted by opposition parties.

The Polish election is widely seen as an important test for democracy, in this case in the fifth most populous country in the 27-member European Union.

A crowded field of 11 candidates — all men — could make it harder for anyone to reach the required 50% of votes on Sunday, in which case a runoff will be held July 12.

Duda is backed by Law and Justice, a nationalist, conservative party that is popular with many for introducing welfare spending programs. Those policies have eased hardships for older Poles and others left behind in the dramatic economic transformation since communism fell in 1989.

According to polls, Duda’s biggest challenge comes from the liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, who belongs to the pro-EU and pro-business Civic Platform party.

That party governed from 2007-15, with Donald Tusk as prime minister until 2014, when he left Poland to take on a top leadership role as president of the European Council.

Read more via AP

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