WARSAW, Poland (AFP) — Right wing populist and Trump ally Andrzej Duda led by a narrow margin against his europhile challenger in Poland’s presidential election, an exit poll indicated early Monday.
Incumbent Duda scored 51.0 percent in the third and final exit poll by Ipsos whose margin of error was one percentage point.
His rival, liberal Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, who has promised to heal ties with Brussels by rolling back a controversial reform of the judiciary, was shown with 49.0 percent.
Earlier exit polls had indicated smaller, too-close-to-call differences. The final tally put turnout at a very high 67.9 percent, which suggests the official figure could end up being a record for the EU member.
“I’m happy with my victory, albeit an exit poll one for now,” Duda, who was flanked by his wife and daughter, told supporters waving red-and-white Polish flags and chanting “Long Live Poland!”
Trzaskowski told his supporters late Sunday: “The result has probably never been so close in Polish history, we’ve never felt the power in our vote so much.”
The result will be decisive for the governing Law and Justice party, which is accused by critics of eroding hard-won democratic freedoms just three decades after the end of communist rule.
Duda’s support is strong in rural areas and small towns and in the east of the country, while Trzaskowski has performed well in larger cities and western regions on the border with Germany.
“The result of these elections is a Poland divided in two with a not-so-rosy future, as it will be difficult to ease the division and to restore the relationship between the two sides,” analyst Kazimierz Kik told AFP.