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Poland’s populist president wins re-election

Poland’s populist president wins re-election

AFP
Warsaw
Polish President Andrzej Duda has squeezed past his europhile rival to win re-election, official results showed on Monday, but the narrow victory puts his allies in the populist right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party government on the back foot.
Seeking close ties with US President Donald Trump, Duda has vowed to tighten already highly restrictive laws against abortion and has campaigned against LGBT rights.
The incumbent won a new five-year term with 51 percent in Sunday’s vote against Warsaw’s liberal mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, who had promised to mend ties with the European Union.
Experts said the result means the governing PiS party, which has been criticised at home and abroad for controversial reforms of the judiciary seen as eroding democratic freedoms, will face a more confident opposition.
“It’s a small victory,” said Kazimierz Kik, a political expert from Kielce University.
“President Duda has won the election but the real success is for Rafal Trzaskowski and the opposition which has gained ground,” he said.
Anna Materska-Sosnowska, a Warsaw University political scientist, said the high mobilisation of young people for Trzaskowski pointed to “a new opposition force”.
But she warned there was also a “realistic” risk that Poland could begin to resemble Hungary, which has been accused of drifting towards authoritarianism under nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.