May 22, 2020 / 2:11 PM / 10 days ago

Polish president's lead in polls narrows sharply ahead of election

WARSAW (Reuters) - Conservative Polish President Andrzej Duda has seen his lead narrow sharply ahead of an election expected to take place in coming weeks, opinion polls have shown, after preparations for a May 10 ballot collapsed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: Poland's President Andrzej Duda attends a session at the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 23, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Squabbles over how to organise the ballot during the outbreak plunged Poland into political turmoil, leaving the date of the vote unclear.

Some analysts said Duda’s campaign appears to have lost steam amid political infighting, with the opposition accusing the government of failing to ensure fair and free voting in its preparations for a May 10 ballot.

The ruling nationalists have pushed for the election to be held as soon as possible, wary that a growing economic downturn could erode the chances of Duda, an important ally, to be re-elected.

Government officials say June 28 is now the most likely date.

Support for Duda has fallen 20 percentage points since April, according to a May 18-19 survey by the Kantar pollster, reaching 39%. Another poll, by IBRiS, showed him at 43%.

Duda, one of Poland’s most popular politicians, had polled as high as 63% shortly before the election, his popularity driven in part by an election boycott announced by the biggest opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform (PO).

A PO announcement last week to replace its candidate with popular Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski appears to have galvanised centrist voters.

A prominent defender of gay rights, a highly divisive issue in the largely conservative Poland, Trzaskowski could win 18% in the presidential ballot, securing second place, the Kantar poll showed.

Despite falling support, Duda is still likely to secure re-election, the pollster said. If he fails to win more than 50% of vote, he will have to compete with the runner up in a second round. Kantar showed him winning 48% to Trzaskowski’s 41%.

Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; additional reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Justyna Pawlak and Nick Macfie

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