Poland’s conservative, anti-LGBT president Andrzej Duda is on course for a second term following the country’s weekend election.
The state electoral commission said on Monday that Mr Duda has won 51.21% of the ballot with almost all votes counted.
The nearly complete results shows liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski defeated with 48.79% of the vote. The final results could vary slightly but counts suggest it will be one of closest elections in Poland’s history, reflecting the deep divisions in the European Union nation.
The election has been dominated by issues of culture in which the government, state media and the influential Catholic Church all mobilised in support of Mr Duda, who is backed by the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party.
He seized on gay rights as a key theme, denouncing the LGBT rights movement as an ‘ideology’ worse than communism.
He campaigned on traditional values and social spending, turning further to the right in search of votes as the race became tighter.
He cast opponent Mr Trzaskowski as someone who would sell out Polish families to Jewish interests, tapping into old anti-Semitic tropes in a country that was home to Europe’s largest Jewish community before it was decimated by Germany in the Holocaust.
Sunday’s vote was originally planned for May but was delayed amid bitter political wrangling. Mr Duda’s win is feared to lead to further controversial reforms to the judiciary and continued opposition to abortion and gay rights.
In the run up to the vote Mr Duda proposed an amendment to Poland’s constitution that would ban same-sex couples from adopting children.
‘I am convinced that, thanks to this, children’s safety and concern for the good of children will be ensured to a much greater extent’, he said.
Poland is the most homophobic country in the EU and nearly 100 Polish municipal or local governments have proclaimed themselves to be ‘free from LGBT ideology’.
Ahead of the final result, Poland’s Campaign Against Homophobia assured LGBT+ people ‘you are important, there is a place for LGBT people!’
In the run up to the vote, LGBT+ group Lambda Warszawa appealed to all members, families, allies and supporters for ‘mass participation in the presidential election’.
The group said in a statement: ‘In view of the unprecedented hatred campaign that has been going on for several weeks against our community; in view of the tragic news about the suicides of people who could not stand the hate and persecution – we turn to everyone to ensure that the words ‘you are not human’ will never flow from the Presidential Palace!’
The opposition Civic Platform (PO) group – which backed Mr Trzaskowski – told Reuters news agency it was collecting information on voting ‘irregularities’ after the polls closed on Sunday, including reports of Poles abroad not receiving their voting packages in time.
Analysts believe the close result could lead to court challenges.
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