Polish presidential challenger Rafal Trzaskowski tried to rally voters of other opposition candidates to his centrist cause on Monday, vowing to hold the nationalist government to account ahead of what looks to be a knife-edge run-off vote.
Incumbent President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, came top in the first round of the presidential election on Sunday, but fell short of the 50 percent needed to secure outright victory, setting the stage for a head-to-head contest with Trzaskowski on July 12.
"I am directing my words to all those who want change," Trzaskowski told supporters in the central Polish city of Plock. "Without them there will be several more years of a monopoly on power which is not honest and it is not possible to hold it to account because it attacks independent institutions."
Crucial for The Furtherance of PiS Agenda
The re-election of government ally Duda is crucial if PiS is to further implement its socially conservative agenda, including judicial reforms which the European Union says undermine the rule of law. Duda has painted himself as the guardian of the government's generous social benefit programmes, and has vowed to protect the traditional family and ward off what he calls "LGBT ideology".
The morning after the election, Duda said he would protect conservative social values, including ensuring gay couples could not adopt children, in an effort to win over the almost 7 percent who voted for far-right Confederation candidate Krzysztof Bosak.
"We have many common values with Krzysztof Bosak," Duda told Polish public radio. "We want the family to be respected in Poland, we want traditional values to be a strong backbone that Polish society will lean on."
Growing Sense of Unease In Parts of Poland
Duda got 43.67 percent of the vote, according to results based on 99.78 percent of the total number of polling districts. Liberal Warsaw Mayor Trzaskowski, who is standing for the largest opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform (PO), came second with 30.34 percent, qualifying for the run-off.
In competing for votes, Duda will face a growing sense of unease in parts of Poland over his allegiance to PiS, as well as concerns over jobs and salaries as the coronavirus pandemic pushes the economy into recession.
Two opinion polls conducted late on Sunday for private broadcaster TVN and the state-run TVP showed Duda having a lead of less than 2 percentage points over Trzaskowski in two weeks' time.