Polish president's lead in polls narrows sharply ahead of election

Polish president's lead in polls narrows sharply ahead of election

FILE PHOTO: Polish President Andrzej Duda addresses a news conference in Warsaw, Poland
FILE PHOTO: Polish President Andrzej Duda attends a news conference after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Warsaw, Poland February 3, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

WARSAW: Conservative Polish President Andrzej Duda has seen his lead narrow sharply ahead of an election expected to take place in coming weeks, opinion polls have shown, after preparations for a May 10 ballot collapsed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Squabbles over how to organise the ballot during the outbreak plunged Poland into political turmoil, leaving the date of the vote unclear.

Some analysts said Duda's campaign appears to have lost steam amid political infighting, with the opposition accusing the government of failing to ensure fair and free voting in its preparations for a May 10 ballot.

The ruling nationalists have pushed for the election to be held as soon as possible, wary that a growing economic downturn could erode the chances of Duda, an important ally, to be re-elected.

Government officials say Jun 28 is now the most likely date.

Support for Duda has fallen 20 percentage points since April, according to a May 18-19 survey by the Kantar pollster, reaching 39 per cent. Another poll, by IBRiS, showed him at 43 per cent.

Duda, one of Poland's most popular politicians, had polled as high as 63per cent shortly before the election, his popularity driven in part by an election boycott announced by the biggest opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform (PO).

A PO announcement last week to replace its candidate with popular Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski appears to have galvanised centrist voters.

A prominent defender of gay rights, a highly divisive issue in the largely conservative Poland, Trzaskowski could win 18per cent in the presidential ballot, securing second place, the Kantar poll showed.

Despite falling support, Duda is still likely to secure re-election, the pollster said. If he fails to win more than 50 per cent of vote, he will have to compete with the runner up in a second round. Kantar showed him winning 48 per cent to Trzaskowski's 41 per cent.

Source: Reuters/nh