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Poland presidential election: Defeated opposition call for vote to be declared invalid

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President Andrzej Duda celebrates his victory in the election on 12 July
President Andrzej Duda celebrates his victory in the election on 12 July   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
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The main opposition in Poland has challenged the result of last week’s presidential election, which saw incumbent Andrzej Duda elected for a second term.

Conservative Duda defeated the candidate for Civic Platform (PO), Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, by a narrow margin - 51% to 49%.

But the PO has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court asking for the invalidation of the poll, accusing its rivals of breaking the law.

“We called for the election to be declared invalid,” said Civic Platform leader Borys Budka, who claimed the election was neither "fair" nor "honest".

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which oversees democratic processes, said that the vote had been largely organised professionally, but had been "tarnished" by biased coverage on state television.

The election campaign and "coverage by the public media was marked by homophobic, xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric," according to a statement by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Duda, who is supported by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, was clearly ahead in the polls ahead of the election when it was originally scheduled for May. However due to the coronavirus pandemic it was postponed, and after PO changed its candidate, Duda’s polling numbers started to slip.

During the campaign, Duda denounced “LGBT ideology” and accused his rival of not rejecting claims for compensation from Jews persecuted during the Second World War, which the Polish government believes should be addressed to Germany.

The appeal from PO includes complaints that many Poles living abroad didn’t receive their ballot papers in time to vote.

One MP who is a member of PO, Barbara Nowacka, said the election had not been "honest".

"One of the reasons I am filing this election challenge today is so that those in power know that citizens are keeping an eye on them. Because if we decide not to react today, then they will tighten the screws even more in the next election," she explained.

Elzbieta Witek, President of the Sejm (lower house of parliament) and member of the ruling PiS party, said in response: "Everyone can appeal".

"These appeals will be considered," she added, "but I doubt that any appeal will have an impact on the outcome of the vote".