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Poland's top court rejects opposition claims of irregularities in July's presidential election

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Incumbent President Andrzej Duda addresses supporters in Pultusk, Poland, Sunday, July 12, 2020.
Incumbent President Andrzej Duda addresses supporters in Pultusk, Poland, Sunday, July 12, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
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Poland's top court has ruled the country's presidential election in July was valid.

The decision on Monday came after a legal challenge brought by the opposition, which had cited numerous alleged irregularities.

In its judgement, the Supreme Court said none of the claims gave rise to question the validity of the election after touching upon each one in the ruling.

The case was a first big test for the Supreme Court since its new president was appointed in May with the backing of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.

The July 12 runoff vote brought victory by a narrow margin for Poland's conservative incumbent president, the Pis-backed Andrzej Duda. He received 51.03% of the vote ahead of his liberal rival Rafal Trzaskowski, the Mayor of Warsaw, on 48.97%.

Duda's supporters claimed he won a clear mandate as the turnout was high at just under 70%.

But Trzaskowski’s team and his Civic Platform party lodged the protest with the Supreme Court arguing that the whole electoral process was “not fair”.

The party claimed that Duda got an unfair campaign boost from the government and from state-run media, who were allegedly praising the president and trying to discredit his opponent.

It also said that many voters abroad were not able to cast their ballots because they did not get them on time, due to poor organization by some of Poland's diplomatic missions.

A spokesman for the Supreme Court said that the Trzaskowski team's complaint had failed to produce any evidence to support its allegations, reported TVN24, a channel often critical of the Polish government.

There were also some 780 other challenges, mostly from individual people.

The Supreme Court found that in 93 cases allegations were justified, but the violations had not affected the election results -- though it accepted that the principle of equal access of candidates to public media had been breached.

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

The first round of the election was originally scheduled for May but was eventually held on June 28. It was pushed back at the last moment amid political wrangling over concerns for public health during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Supreme Court stressed the importance of holding the delayed election in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the deficiencies uncovered did not justify questioning the validity of the result.