Poland heads for presidential run-off, with outcome too close to call

Duda wins 1st round of Poland's presidential election

Duda also attracted more older voters, especially those 50 years and up.

Duda, an ally of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS), is on track to gain 41.8 percent of the vote, falling short of the 50 percent majority needed to claim victory in the first round.

Poland's election had been due to take place in May, when Mr Duda was higher in the polls and stood a better chance of winning in the first round.

This creates risk for Polish assets by raising the possibility of an early general election in case Trzaskowski wins, according to Bank Millennium economist Grzegorz Maliszewski.

Opponents of PiS say that if Trzaskowski wins, he will be able to frustrate the legislative agenda of PiS through the presidential veto, as well as provide a different face of Poland to Brussels and the outside world.

Turnout will again be crucial: Mr Duda, who ran a deeply conservative campaign that often veered towards outright homophobia - he called LGBT ideology "more threatening than communism" - benefits from the PiS electoral machine that is highly efficient at getting out its core vote in rural areas and smaller towns and cities, and from the support of Polish state television.

Kazimierz Kik, professor of political science at the Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce in south central Poland, said he believed Duda had "greater potential" than Trzaskowski to mobilise voters who stayed at home on Sunday. He argued some won't vote, some will back Duda and some will "tactically" vote for Trzaskowski to weaken Law and Justice, which Confederation sees as a rival conservative and nationalist force.

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Duda's immediate return to a theme that he has raised frequently during his campaign was an indication that he is heading into a tight runoff with Warsaw's centrist mayor by seeking to win the votes of those on the far right, not the political center.

Poland's former president Aleksander Kwaśniewski said on Monday he expected a "dirty campaign" over the next two weeks, with a potential media smear campaign against Trzaskowski. "Inflammatory language by the incumbent and his campaign was at times xenophobic and homophobic".

Much will also depend on voters of far-right candidate Krzystof Bosak, who gained 7.4 percent of the vote.

The campaign was dominated by concerns over an erosion of democratic rights and bread and butter economic issues.

"The most important thing this result shows is that more than half of our society wants change", he said. I want to say clearly to all these citizens - I will be your candidate.

But as restrictions eased, Mr Trzaskowski replaced an earlier candidate fielded by his Civic Platform party who had dismal poll numbers, adding a new dynamic and some suspense into the race.

(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski). A top candidate in Poland's presidential election, Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, front, kisses his wife Malgorzata to exit poll after voting closed, in Warsaw, Poland, on Sunday, June 28, 2020.

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