WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Two bitter rivals are embarking on a razor-age presidential runoff election in Poland on Sunday, which is seen as a critical test of populism in Europe following a campaign that has widened the conservative-liberal divide in the country.
The tough campaign has seen homophobia and anti-Jewish tensions, and both sides have sought support from rival political camps in Washington.
Nationalist and conservative President Andrzej Duda is seeking a second term, but is facing a tough challenge from liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzkowski. Nine other candidates were eliminated, both 48, leaving both rivals in the first round in late June.
Duda lodged her opposition to LGBT rights as a major campaign topic, while Trezakowski signed a tolerance declaration last year, triggering a struggle against gay rights in a mostly Catholic country.
Duda called LGBT rights an “ideology”, more dangerous than communism, and on Monday he formally proposed a constitutional amendment to ban the adoption of same-sex children.
He and the Law and Justice Party have won in support of the old and rural Poles, helping cash payments to families and other welfare programs.
“This is a good time for the last five years, which we have put to good use,” Duda told supporters at a rally on Monday. “I want to continue this policy – for the family, for the development of Poland, for the development of all generations of my country.”
But many liberal and urban poles reject a brand of populism that they see as xenophobic and dangerous to stand with European partners.
Last month, Duda was brought to the White House by President Donald Trump, who said he was “doing a great job.” Trezakowski later turned to former President Barack Obama to discuss the state of Poland’s democracy.
As Duda’s once high turnout numbers have declined, his campaign has moved to the right, trying to provoke fear of homosexuality, Jews and even Germans, ostensibly conservative and To those who recalled the Nazis’ second-world occupation of Poland. .
The President has an important role in foreign policy and veto power more than laws passed by Parliament. During his five-year term, Duda has approved laws giving the Law and Justice Party vast new powers over Poland’s top courts and major judicial bodies.
The European Union says the changes violate the democratic principle of segregation of powers, but the government has insisted on going ahead with most measures, arguing a mandate from voters to reform the justice system.
Adding tensions to its relations with its European partners is Poland’s refusal to agree to the European Union’s ambitious carbon neutrality goals, and the 2015 large number of migrants arriving in Europe.
Sunday’s vote would determine whether law and justice would control almost all institutions of power in Poland, or Trezkowski would have a say, which belonged to the European Union’s Citizens Forum Party and vowed to restore constitutional norms.
Duda secured 43.5% of the votes in the first round. Trezaskowski received 30.5%, but is expected to receive the bulk of the votes that went to the eliminated candidates. This leaves the end result on about 7% of voters who supported a far-flung candidate, Krzysztof Bosak.
Bosak belongs to a party, called the Confederation, that has been declared by the leaders of law and justice as pro-Kremlin and anti-Krem, but whose votes are seeking a vote.
“I see him as the most pro-Russian force in Poland,” said Wojciech Przebulski, editor of Visegrad Insight, a policy journal focused on Central Europe. “They are anti-American, they are anti-Jewish. They accused everyone of conspiring to snatch money from Poland.”
The public television broadcaster, TVP, is flush with an additional $ 500 million sanctioned by Duda in the spring, broadcasting a stream of positive news, presenting her as a protector of Polish families and Treyskowski , Who will sell them.
The news of the prime-time evening has led to a recurring allegation that Trezkowski would snatch popular social benefits and give Jewish groups money to revalue for prewar property.
Trezskoski has called for a tolerant and inclusive society and vowed to prevent another erosion of judicial independence under law and justice, while also promising to preserve the popular welfare programs of its rivals.
On Tuesday, he accused Duda of running a “cynical campaign against those who were trying to” stand in favor of being attacked.
The split is so deep that the two could not agree on terms for a debate this week. Trezaskowski spread the state.