Europe

Poland postpones May 10 presidential election over Covid-19 fears

Poland’s governing parties said on Wednesday they had agreed to postpone the country’s May 10 presidential election after a failed attempt to hold it via a postal vote due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the powerful leader of the governing Law and Justice (PiS), said on the party’s official Twitter account that “the Speaker of Parliament will announce new presidential elections as soon as possible” after the country‘s supreme court had declared the planned vote on May 10 void.

A new date was not immediately clear.

There had been mounting pressure from the opposition and from within the ranks of the PiS itself to postpone the ballot and it became clear this week that holding it via a postal vote would be impossible from both a technical and legal standpoint.

With even some PiS lawmakers opposed, it appeared the government would fail to scrape together enough votes to pass last-minute legislation for a postal vote.

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Failure would also see the PiS lose its already thin majority.

Opinion polls suggest that PiS-allied incumbent President Andrzej Duda could capture more than 50 percent of the vote for a first-round victory.

Arguing that a free, fair and safe ballot is impossible under the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, the opposition had demanded a delay.

Critics also pointed to the absence of a democratic debate and an electoral campaign due to the pandemic.

Opposition candidates were unable to meet with voters due to the restrictions, while President Duda was effectively able to carry on campaiging while performing his official duties.

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