Poles vote in presidential election that could define EU relations

Poles vote in presidential election that could define EU relations

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poles vote on Sunday in a knife-edge presidential election that may shape the country’s future relations with the European Union, which have been frayed by the bloc’s concerns over the rule of law. Incumbent Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling nationalists Law and Justice (PiS), takes on liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski after a campaign that has shown sharply contrasting visions for the future and exposed deep political divisions. Duda’s re-election is crucial if PiS is to deepen judicial reforms that the European Union says increase political control over the courts. The president holds the power of veto and Trzaskowski has said he will block legislation that he believes would undermine democratic norms. Given that Poland’s president holds few executive powers, it is unlikely Trzaskowski could bring about significant change if he won. But with the presidency as well as the upper house of parliament in opposition hands, PiS’s ability to implement its agenda would be hampered. The election is a run-off after a first round on June 28. Polling stations open at 0500 GMT and close at 1900 GMT, at which point the results of an exit poll will be announced. Duda has painted himself as a defender of Poland’s Catholic values and the generous social benefit programmes that have transformed life for many, especially in the poorer rural regions of the country, the EU’s largest post-communist member. “I believe we can build the Poland we dream of, a fair Poland, a rich Poland ...
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