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Feb 26, 2024

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President Duda
Re-Elected

Incumbent Duda  51.03%: challenger Trzaskowski  48.97%

By Robert Strybel
Warsaw Correspondent

WARSAW–Conservative Polish incumbent Andrzej Duda has been re-elected to another five-year presidential term following a long and brutal election campaign.A mail-in election originally set for May 20 was called off at the last moment amid pandemic concerns and fierce resistance from opposition parties.

Duda won  51.03% of the vote in the second and final round of the election, while his opponent, liberal-leftist Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, received 48.97%. The incumbent fared better in smaller cities and towns as well as the countryside. while Trzaskowski was more successful in large metropolitan areas. Of the Poles voting in America, 55% backed Duda and 45% voted for Trzaskowski.

What for Poland was an extremely high turnout of  just over 68% showed how intensely both sides had mobilized their electorates and how much was riding on the outcome. Over the next three years till the next parliamentary elections the ruling Law and Justice party will he able to complete its ambitious reform and development programs, but the opposition-controlled Senate appears likely to drag its feet and slow down the legislative process.

Despite the negative economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Duda  pledged to continue the government’s popular social-benefit programs that have helped lift many Polish families out of poverty. Major construction projects such as a Central European airline hub and a new Baltic shipping canal will be pursued to completion. The bus and rail lines, train stations and police stations liquidated by the previous liberal administration are being restored.

At the end of election day, Duda reiterated his appeal for les brutal and more civil relations in this highly polarized country. ”We can have different views, but we should show mutual respect, discuss things and not attack and insult one another,” said Duda who together with his family had been subjected to a vicious hate campaign. In a conciliatory gesture, he invited Trzaskowski and his wife to a late-night meeting at the Presidential Palace.

But Trzaskowski snubbed the incumbent and failed to show up. He had also pulled a no-show at a presidential debate several days earlier. But there is a Polish saying ”nieobecny nie ma racji” (whoever is absent is in the wrong). Many of Trzaskowski’s staffers and ordinary supporters regarded his boycott as a serious tactical blunder which may have cost him the election.