Incumbent Polish president Andrzej Duda has been reelected to a second term in office last night after a tight campaign filled with inflammatory and hateful rhetoric. The 48-year-old Polish lawyer and politician was declared the winner over the liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski when the remaining uncounted ballots were not enough to overcome Duda’s margin of victory.
The results from this weekend’s voting show Duda with 10,433,576 or 51.08%, and Trzaskowski with 9,993,712. Polish presidents are directly elected to five-year terms by an absolute majority of the popular vote. If no candidate receives an absolute majority in the first round of voting, the top two candidates go to a second round. With his victory over the weekend, Duda will now serve until 2025.
The election was set against a backdrop of rising hate and promises of increased discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in the former Soviet satellite state. Duda whipped up a crowd of right-wing supporters last month with calls for a crackdown on the LGBTQ+ community. His “Family Card” of proposals promises to outlaw marriage equality and prevent child adoption by LGBTQ+ families. Many at the time saw his increase in hateful rhetoric as an attempt to secure his Catholic and conservative base against new polls that showed the race had tightened to a near tie.
Duda is a registered Independent, but allies with the right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS). PiS actively fights against protections for LGBTQ+ persons, and recently supported a “Stop Pedophilia” bill that calls for punishing anyone who “promotes or approves sexual intercourse or other sexual activity by a minor” with up to three years in prison.
President Donald Trump gave the homophobic Polish president a media bonanza in June when he invited Duda to the White House, the first such official visit following the lifting of social distancing restrictions. Trump recently suggested he may move some troops currently station in Germany to Poland.
Poland was recently in the headlines when YouTubers, Jakub and Dawid Mycek-Kwiecinski, got intimate in an advertisement for Durex condoms and were the first same-sex couple to appear in a national television commercial. The PiS-controlled TVP television network refused outright to air the commercial, citing supposed complaints from viewers as well as a section of the 1992 law governing broadcasting requiring that programming “shall respect the religious beliefs of the public and especially the Christian system of values."