Polish presidential election, 2020

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Author (Corporate)
Publication Date 2020
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Information, reports and analyses related to the presidential election initially scheduled to be held in Poland in May 2020 and later postponed due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The first round was eventually held on 28 June, followed by a runoff vote on 12 July 2020.

Further information:

The President of Poland is directly elected using a two-round system for a five-year term, with re-election allowed once. The President must be elected by an absolute majority of valid votes; a second round is held with the two candidates with the largest number of votes in the absence of a straightforward majority following the first round.

The country was due to hold the first round of the election on 10 May 2020. The incumbent President Andrzej Duda - an ally of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party - launched a bid for a second term and was shown by pre-election polls as well ahead of the remaining candidates. These included Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz and Szymon Hołownia, widely seen as the best-placed to challenge the incumbent.

The pandemic - and the government's initial decision not to postpone the election in light of the restrictions otherwise imposed to citizens - was the main issue structuring public debate. Opposition politicians urged the election to be held at a later date as campaigning was restricted or even made impossible by the virus outbreak across Poland. Members of the PiS party accused their opponents of playing for time in the hope the gap would narrow between the leading candidate and his rivals. Opposition candidates urged the government to declare a state of emergency or state of natural disaster, which would have automatically postponed the election - the cabinet refused to do so as it did not deemed the situation serious enough.

On 6 April 2020, Poland's Sejm (the lower house of Parliament) adopted a proposal requiring voting for the presidential election to be carried out by postal voting. The bill was then sent to the upper house of Parliament for further processing. Some law professionals and entities in Poland and abroad raised questions over whether such changes were according to Polish Constitution, which prevents alteration of electoral code six months prior to an election. On 30 April, a number of former Presidents and Prime Ministers called for a boycott of the presidential election.

The bill on postal voting was eventually approved on 7 May. However, Poland's electoral committee announced on 10 May the conditions had not been met for an election to take place. The Speaker of the Sejm later ordered the first round of the election to be held on 28 June.

On 15 May, the main opposition party announced the replacement of their candidate for the Presidency - Rafał Trzaskowsi was selected following the resignation of Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska due to poor performance in election polls. The electoral campaign went on framed by the economic impact of the pandemic and the electorate's willingness to allow governing PiS to remain unchallenged in exercising power. The incumbent Andrzej Duda focused his narrative on fighting the so-called 'LGBT ideology', seen by many as proxy for homophobic remarks to seduce conservative and far-right voters.

Mr Duda won the first round of the election (43,5%), followed by Mr Trzaskowski (30,5%). The second round was held on 12 July 2020 - incumbent Andrzej Duda (51%) narrowly won the election against Rafał Trzaskowsi (49%).

Related Links
Commentary and Analysis
Politico: Poll of Polls: Poland https://www.politico.eu/europe-poll-of-polls/poland/
Wikipedia: 2020 Polish presidential election https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Polish_presidential_election
IFES Election Guide: Polish presidential election, May 2020 http://www.electionguide.org/elections/id/3337/
Balkan Insight, 28/02/2020: Democracy Digest: Poland's Presidential Soap Opera https://balkaninsight.com/2020/02/28/democracy-digest-polands-presidential-soap-opera/
Verfassungsblog, 18/03/2020: The Polish Presidential Campaign in the Shadow of the Pandemic https://verfassungsblog.de/the-polish-presidential-campaign-in-the-shadow-of-the-pandemic/
Verfassungsblog, 24/03/2020: An Election in the Time of Pandemic https://verfassungsblog.de/an-election-in-the-time-of-pandemic/
EUObserver, 27/03/2020: Poland's sham presidential election in a pandemic https://euobserver.com/opinion/147887
Berlin Policy Journal, 06/04/2020: Poland’s Troubled Presidential Elections https://berlinpolicyjournal.com/polands-troubled-presidential-election/
Euro|topics, April 2020: Poland to hold postal presidential vote https://www.eurotopics.net/en/238023/
ECFR: Commentary, 15/04/2020: Kaczynski’s folly: Time for Europeans to speak out https://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_kaczynskis_folly_time_for_europeans_to_speak_out
The Economist, 16/04/2020: A postal vote in Poland could entrench populists https://www.economist.com/europe/2020/04/16/a-postal-vote-in-poland-could-entrench-populists
Balkan Insight, 17/04/2020: Democracy Digest: Duda vs Duda in Polish Election https://balkaninsight.com/2020/04/17/democracy-digest-duda-vs-duda-in-polish-election/
Robert Schuman Foundation: Election Monitor: Analysis, 21/04/2020: The next presidential election might take place by post only in Poland, a process whose democratic, legitimate character is dubious. https://www.robert-schuman.eu/en/eem/1878-the-next-presidential-election-might-take-place-by-post-only-in-poland-a-process-whose-democratic-legitimate-character-is-dubious
EUObserver, 22/04/2020: Race to the bottom: all Polish election outcomes are bad https://euobserver.com/opinion/148133
LSE: EUROPP Blog, 24/04/2020: Democratic backsliding, Poland’s election and Covid-19: What needs to be considered? https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2020/04/24/democratic-backsliding-polands-election-and-covid-19-what-needs-to-be-considered/
Human Rights Watch: News, 28/04/2020: Poland: Make Vote for President Free, Fair, Safe https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/04/28/poland-make-vote-president-free-fair-safe
Euro|topics, April 2020: Poland: Tusk calls for election boycott https://www.eurotopics.net/en/239782/
Foreign Policy, 04/05/2020: Poland Is Showing the World How Not to Run a Pandemic Election https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/05/04/poland-is-showing-the-world-how-not-to-run-a-pandemic-election/
The Guardian, 05/05/2020: The Guardian view on Poland's presidential election: call it off https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/05/the-guardian-view-on-polands-presidential-election-call-it-off
Balkan Insight, 07/05/2020: Poland postpones Presidential Election https://balkaninsight.com/2020/05/07/poland-postpones-presidential-election/
Politico, 08/05/2020: In Poland, Schrödinger’s election https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/08/in-poland-schrodingers-election-244482
Euro|topics, May 2020: Poland postpones presidential election https://www.eurotopics.net/en/240209/
New Statesman, 12/05/2020: Why Poland’s “ghost election” sends a warning about its democracy https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/2020/05/poland-president-Andrzej-Duda-elections-pis-ruling-party-democracy
Robert Schuman Foundation: Election Monitor: Analysis, 15/06/2020: The first round of the presidential election in Poland will finally take place on June 28 https://www.robert-schuman.eu/en/eem/1881-the-first-round-of-the-presidential-election-in-poland-will-finally-take-place-on-june-28
EurActiv, 19/06/2020: Could Polish president Duda’s anti-LGBT rhetoric spell trouble for PiS? https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/opinion/could-polish-president-dudas-anti-lgbt-rhetoric-spell-trouble-for-pis/
The Economist, 20/06/2020: Gay “ideology” is worse than communism, says Poland’s president https://www.economist.com/europe/2020/06/20/gay-ideology-is-worse-than-communism-says-polands-president
New Statesman, 25/06/2020: Poland’s presidential election is a stark contest between an open and closed society https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/2020/06/poland-s-presidential-election-stark-contest-between-open-and-closed-society
Deutsche Welle, 26/06/2020: Poles weigh cost of change as COVID-19 dulls PiS appeal https://p.dw.com/p/3eKml
The Guardian, 26/06/2020: Poland casts its vote as a nation divided. But can the election deliver true change? https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/26/poland-vote-divided-election-change-law-and-justice-covid-19
TIME, 26/06/2020: What Poland's Elections Could Mean for the Future of Europe https://time.com/5858569/poland-elections-2020/
GMFUS: Blog, 26/06/2020: Transatlantic Take 360: Poland’s Turbulent and Consequential Presidential Election https://www.gmfus.org/blog/2020/06/26/transatlantic-take-360-polands-turbulent-and-consequential-presidential-election
Politico, 27/06/2020: Poland’s long election season comes to an end https://www.politico.eu/article/poland-presidential-2020-long-election-season-comes-to-an-end/
LSE: EUROPP Blog, 27/06/2020: Five paradoxes ahead of this Sunday’s presidential election in Poland https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2020/06/27/five-paradoxes-ahead-of-this-sundays-presidential-election-in-poland/
BBC News, 28/06/2020: Poland's clash of values in presidential election https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-53190016
openDemocracy: Can Europe Make It?, 29/06/2020: Poland: Duda heads for the second round https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/poland-duda-heads-second-round/
Carnegie Europe: Strategic Europe, 30/06/2020: Poland’s Retreat From Europe https://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/82209
Euronews, 30/06/2020: What's at stake as Poland's presidential race heads to a run-off? https://www.euronews.com/2020/06/28/poland-presidential-election-duda-heading-for-run-off-against-warsaw-mayor-trzaskowski
The Guardian, 05/07/2020: Knife-edge Polish presidential race could slow the march of populism https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/05/knife-edge-polish-presidential-race-could-slow-the-march-of-populism
Euro|topics, July 2020: Runoff election in Poland: what's at stake? https://www.eurotopics.net/en/243675/
Pew Research Center: FactTank, 10/07/2020: How people in Poland see key aspects of their democracy ahead of presidential election https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/07/10/how-people-in-poland-see-key-aspects-of-their-democracy-ahead-of-presidential-election/
UK in a Changing Europe: Analysis, 10/07/2020: Poland’s crucial presidential election https://ukandeu.ac.uk/polands-crucial-presidential-election/
Euronews, 13/07/2020: Five takeaways from the Polish presidential election https://www.euronews.com/2020/07/13/five-takeaways-from-the-polish-presidential-election
Politico, 13/07/2020: 4 takeaways from Duda’s reelection as Polish president https://www.politico.eu/article/4-takeaways-from-andrzej-duda-reelection-as-poland-president-result-2020/
Politico, 13/07/2020: What Poland tells us about the fight against populism https://www.politico.eu/article/what-poland-andrzej-duda-rafal-trzaskowski-tells-us-about-the-fight-against-populism/
The Economist, 13/07/2020: Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice party clings on to the presidency https://www.economist.com/europe/2020/07/13/polands-right-wing-law-and-justice-party-clings-on-to-the-presidency
Euro|topics, July 2020: Duda re-elected: what is the upshot? https://www.eurotopics.net/en/243922/
Carnegie Europe: Strategic Europe, 14/07/2020: What Poland’s Presidential Election Means for the EU https://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/82290

TVN24, 11/02/2020: And they're off! Presidential race in Poland has begun https://tvn24.pl/tvn24-news-in-english/and-theyre-off-presidential-race-in-poland-has-begun-3822748
Politico, 29/03/2020: Poland’s coronavirus-crisis election unleashes political warfare https://www.politico.eu/article/polands-coronavirus-response-unleashes-political-warfare/
The Guardian, 01/04/2020: Polish government still planning to hold presidential election https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/01/polish-government-still-planning-to-hold-presidential-election
Radio Poland, 06/04/2020: Polish MPs back rules to hold presidential election by postal vote only https://www.polskieradio.pl/395/7784/Artykul/2488251
Bloomberg, 06/04/2020: Poland Moves to Force Its First Election by Mail Amid Lockdown https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-06/poland-moves-to-hold-europe-s-only-national-election-in-lockdown
Radio Poland, 06/04/2020: Polish deputy PM quits amid spat over election https://www.polskieradio.pl/395/7784/Artykul/2487977
TVN24, 06/04/2020: Sejm pushes postal voting for presidential election after PiS ordered party discipline https://tvn24.pl/tvn24-news-in-english/poland-pushes-postal-vote-for-presidential-election-coronavirus-deaths-up-4545879
BBC News, 07/04/2020: Poland plans May election despite pandemic https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-52199897
TVN24, 07/04/2020: Rights watchdogs concerned with Poland's push to hold presidential election despite epidemic https://tvn24.pl/tvn24-news-in-english/polish-parliament-backs-postal-ballot-to-pick-president-despite-rights-groups-concerns-4547631
EurActiv, 08/04/2020: Polish parliament backs postal ballot to pick president despite rights groups’ concerns https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/polish-parliament-backs-postal-ballot-to-pick-president-despite-rights-groups-concerns/
Reuters, 23/04/2020: Polish president well ahead for May vote, but criticism rises https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN2252B8
Deutsche Welle, 25/04/2020: Poland: Opposition slams presidential election by post https://p.dw.com/p/3bP0r
EurActiv, 28/04/2020: Poland set to hold elections in midst of pandemic https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/poland-set-to-hold-elections-in-midst-of-pandemic/
BBC News, 07/05/2020: Poland's presidential poll postponed over coronavirus https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-52568797
Euronews, 10/05/2020: Poland's top politician defends policy after election crisis https://www.euronews.com/2020/05/10/poland-s-top-politician-defends-policy-after-election-crisis
The Guardian, 11/05/2020: Poland holds ghost election with 0% turnout https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/11/poland-holds-ghost-election-with-0-turnout
The Guardian, 12/06/2020: Polish president issues campaign pledge to fight 'LGBT ideology' https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/12/polish-president-issues-campaign-pledge-to-fight-lgbt-ideology
Politico, 03/06/2020: Poland sets new presidential election date https://www.politico.eu/article/poland-sets-a-new-presidential-election-date/
BBC News, 14/06/2020: Polish election: Andrzej Duda says LGBT 'ideology' worse than communism https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-53039864
Radio Poland, 15/06/2020: ‘Stop distributing fake news,’ Polish president tells foreign media https://www.polskieradio.pl/395/7785/Artykul/2531926
AP News, 24/06/2020: Populist Polish president faces tough reelection challenge https://apnews.com/756ea1efde925cb016e1724f4e9a23bf
Deutsche Welle, 28/06/2020: Poland's president, liberal rival set for runoff https://p.dw.com/p/3eTVd
Politico, 28/06/2020: Polish presidential election heads to second round https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/28/poland-presidential-election-duda-343541
BBC News, 29/06/2020: Poland presidential election heads for second round https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-53215106
The Guardian, 29/06/2020: Poland election: Duda forced into second round against liberal challenger https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/28/poland-election-duda-forced-to-second-round-exit-poll-suggests
Reuters, 29/06/2020: Polish presidential challenger vows to end conservative stranglehold https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN2400IZ
Balkan Insight, 29/06/2020: Polish Elections: Duda faces runoff after rival polls strongly https://balkaninsight.com/2020/06/29/polish-elections-duda-faces-runoff-after-rival-polls-strongly/
EUObserver, 29/06/2020: EU facing three more years of Kaczyński-ism https://euobserver.com/justice/148788
Politico, 29/06/2020: Poland’s Duda faces a fight to hang on to the presidency https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/29/polands-duda-faces-a-fight-to-hang-on-to-the-presidency-344185
Radio Poland, 06/07/2020: Polish president wants constitution changed to stop gay couples adopting children https://www.polskieradio.pl/395/7789/Artykul/2545839
EurActiv, 10/07/2020: Hopes and fears as polarised Poles choose president https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/hopes-and-fears-as-polarised-poles-choose-president/
Deutsche Welle, 11/07/2020: Anti-German sentiment colors Polish president's election campaign https://p.dw.com/p/3f9Zm
BBC News, 12/07/2020: Poland election: Clash of ideals as voters choose head of state https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-53379600
TIME, 12/07/2020: Conservative Polish President Wins Second Term After Campaign With Homophobic and Anti-Semitic Overtones https://time.com/5865988/poland-elections-runoff/
BBC News, 13/07/2020: Poland's Duda narrowly beats Trzaskowski in presidential vote https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-53385021
Euronews, 13/07/2020: Poland election result: Narrow victory for conservative incumbent Andrzej Duda https://www.euronews.com/2020/07/12/poland-votes-poles-head-to-the-ballot-box-in-knife-edge-presidential-election-runoff
The Guardian, 13/07/2020: Duda narrowly re-elected in Poland in boost for ruling nationalists https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/13/incumbent-andrzej-duda-wins-polish-presidential-election-commission
Politico, 13/07/2020: Poland’s Duda secures another 5 years as president https://www.politico.eu/article/duda-wins-polish-presidential-election-preliminary-result/
EurActiv, 14/07/2020: Poland ‘divided in two’ after president narrowly wins re-election https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/poland-divided-in-two-after-president-narrowly-wins-re-election/

Official Website of Poland's National Electoral Committee (Państwowa Komisja Wyborcza - PKW) https://pkw.gov.pl/
OSCE: ODIHR: Polish Presidential Election, 28 June 2020 https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/poland/454699
Council of Europe: News, 08/04/2020: COVID-19: monitors express concern at the possibility of an election for Polish President under full lockdown conditions http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/News/News-View-EN.asp?newsid=7848&lang=2
OSCE: ODIHR, 27/04/2020: Opinion on the Draft Act on Special Rules for Conducting the General Election of the President of the Republic of Poland Ordered in 2020 (Senate Paper No.99) https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/poland/450856
OSCE: ODIHR: Press Release, 16/06/2020: ODIHR opens special election assessment mission in Poland https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/poland/454711
Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly: News, 13/07/2020: Second round of the presidential election in Poland: voting was well organised https://pace.coe.int/en/news/7956/second-round-of-the-presidential-election-in-poland-voting-was-well-organised

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