Exit polls in Poland’s presidential election suggest the incumbent, Andrzej Duda, has finished first but without enough votes to win outright.
If confirmed, Mr Duda, a conservative, will face the liberal mayor of Warsaw, Rafal Trzaskowski, in the second round in two weeks’ time.
The polls suggest Mr Duda took just under 42% of the vote and Mr Trzaskowski just over 30%.
Turnout was high despite coronavirus and social distancing restrictions.
President Duda is an ally of the governing nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party and if he loses, the opposition could push through major changes in Polish politics.
The president has the power to veto legislation, so Mr Duda’s re-election would be of benefit to PiS, of which he used to be a member.
Mr Trzaskowski, meanwhile, has pledged to heal rifts with the European Union. Mr Duda’s allies have frequently clashed with the bloc over controversial reforms to the judiciary and media.
Mr Trzaskowski rose fast in the polls after joining the race in May. Previously a member of Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform government, he won the capital’s race for mayor in 2018 promising “Warsaw for All”.
“This is a decisive time. A lot will really depend on this decision,” said Poland’s anti-communist hero Lech Walesa as he voted in the northern port of Gdansk.
Last week, Mr Duda travelled to Washington and received a ringing endorsement from President Donald Trump.
“He’s doing a terrific job,” said President Trump, in what was widely seen as a domestic boost for Mr Duda. “The people of Poland think the world of him.”
Poland’s election had been due to take place in May, when Mr Duda was higher in the polls and stood a better chance of winning in the first round.
Although the epidemic had not yet peaked, the government was desperate for the May vote to go ahead. It eventually backed down when a junior coalition partner joined the opposition in saying PiS were putting politics before public health.
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