Eurosceptic secures Polish presidential election victory – and it’s bad news for Brussels

Mr Duda, an ally of the country’s ruling nationalist government, is expected to help the Law and Justice party continue its controversial judicial reforms, which have been heavily criticised by the European Union. With almost all of the ballots counted, the winner had secured 51.2 percent of all votes while his liberal challenger, Rafal Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw, trailed with 48.8 percent. Turnout for the second round of the vote was 68.1 percent, the second-highest highest of any presidential ballot since the beginning of free elections in post-communist Poland in 1989.

Both men declared victory when the exit poll was released as the ballot closed on Sunday evening.

Law and Justice’s deputy prime minister, Jadwiga Emilewicz, questioned the exit poll, claiming voters were ashamed of voting for right-wing parties.

She said: “People are ashamed of voting for the right, which means that exit polls underestimate support, because people are afraid of being excluded from their social circles by admitting their vote.”

Mr Duda was accused of fighting a divisive campaign in which he vowed to support “family values” at the expense of LGBT rights and frequently used homophobic language.

His nationalist approach also saw him launch attacks on Jews, Germans and the EU.

During his campaign, he called the promotion of LGBT rights an “ideology” more destructive than communism.

Having secured a five-year term, Mr Duda is expected to support the government’s efforts to seize tighter political control over Poland’s courts.

Law and Justice’s overhaul of the judiciary has prompted huge tensions between Warsaw and the European Commission in Brussels.

The bloc has accused Poland of damaging democratic values and institutions.

The victory cements Law and Justice’s power base until at least 2023, when the next parliamentary elections are due to be held.

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He said: “Good to see a eurosceptic win in Poland.”

Seb Dance, a former Labour Party MEP, said: “A sad day for Poland and for Europe – but even worse for LGBT+ people in Poland who have been the victims of a disgusting scapegoating campaign by Duda.

“Tough times ahead. LGBT+ Poles need solidarity and love going forward. And a tougher response from EU institutions.”

Arch-federalist MEP Guy Verhofstadt said: “Important that President Duda drops his divisive and populist attacks on minorities to unite the Polish people.

“This means listening to young Poles, who voted massively for a future at the heart of a strong Europe.”

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