Poland’s incumbent President Andrzej Duda and his rival the centre-right mayor of Warsaw Rafal Trzaskowski are consistently neck-and-neck in the polls six days ahead of the crucial election on July 12.
Five recent polls – by renowned pollsters Ipsos, Indicator, Kantar, Estymator, and Ibris – all showed the difference between Duda and Trzaskowski at just 1pp-1.8pp with the president inching ahead of his rival in two polls. The three other polls point to Trzaskowski.
With differences being so small, crucial to the eventual result of the election will be the mobilisation of voters of either candidate, the number of new voters going to the polling station on Sunday and exactly how many far-right voters will vote and for whom.
The far-right candidate Krzysztof Bosak came as high as in the fourth place in the first round of the election on June 28, scooping over 1.3mn votes. That has since prompted Duda and Trzaskowski to appeal to Bosak’s supporters to vote.
Both contenders have been campaigning heavily in small Polish towns that many observers say will also be crucial to the election’s outcome. At his rallies, Duda is underlining the social spending of the Law and Justice government, of which he is a staunch ally, as well as threats to Poland’s traditional family model that Trzaskowski will allegedly bring about.
For his part, Trzaskowski has been warning against too much power in the hands of one camp, has vowed to keep PiS’s social spending – topped up with more money if he becomes president – and pledged to end divisions that have ripped Poland as a result of PiS’s rule.
The divisions indeed run so deep that they have effectively prevented a live TV debate between Duda and Trzaskowski. Trzaskowski refused to take part in a debate hosted by state-owned broadcaster TVP, which PiS has turned into a government mouthpiece.
Instead, Trzaskowski will hold a large presser with a number of media – including those supporting Duda. Both “debates” will take place on the evening of July 6.
The election is crucial for the PiS-led ruling camp, as Duda is the guarantor of the government’s unchallenged rule until the next general vote in 2023. As an opposition president, Trzaskowski is expected to be highly contrarian, a strategy that could wear PiS out as it does not have a majority in the parliament to overrun presidential vetoes. A snap election cannot be ruled in such a scenario.