From Iceland — Two Elections In The Same Weekend

Two Elections In The Same Weekend

Published June 26, 2020

Nico Borbely
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Enthusiastic voters will be in luck over the weekend: in addition to the presidential elections in Iceland taking place on Saturday, the presidential election in Poland will be taking place on Sunday, Morgunblaðið reports. Around 17,000 Poles live in Iceland and are likely keeping a close eye on the developments. A part of the community also holds Icelandic citizenship and therefore get to exercise their democratic rights twice in the same weekend.

One of them is expert in immigrant matters at the City of Reykjavik’s Human Rights and Democracy Office Joanna Marcinkowska. She says that the Polish presidential election is undeniably more exciting than the Icelandic one.

The role of the president of Poland is very similar to that of Iceland. The position is mainly formal in nature, but the president can also veto laws. Unlike Icelanders are used to, Polish presidential candidates are officially affiliated with specific political parties.

A Battle Between Liberty And Conservatism

Of all the available candidates, two men are considered most likely to win. One is current president Andrzej Duda, the candidate for the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS). The other is Warsaw mayor and liberal-conservative Civic Platform Party (PO) candidate Rafał Trzaskowski. The latter is more liberal than his opponent and enjoys support from both left-wing and more moderate right-wing voters, such as former Polish prime minister and former president of the EU Council Donald Tusk.

Mayor of Reykjavik Dagur B. Eggertson is among mayors across Europe who voiced support for Trzaskowski in an election video he recently released. In contrast, Donald Trump has supported Duda by inviting him to the White House last week in the first official visit to the United States by a foreign head-of-state since the coronavirus pandemic raged across the world.

Joanna does not express her opinion on the merit of the candidates, but mentions that she has met Trzaskowski herself, and that he has completely different views on many issues than the sitting president. “They’re not in the same boat when it comes to LGBT+ rights, for instance,” she explains.

Unusual Elections

The elections were originally supposed to take place at the beginning of May, but they were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Joanna says that this was a controversial decision, as it was uncertain whether this delay was legal. As well as the fact that it is now possible to vote by mail in an election for the first time. “No one trusts this mail-in option. People are worried that there will be too high a possibility of electoral fraud.”

There are two rounds of voting in Polish elections, i.e. run-off elections between the top two candidates are held unless one candidate secures a majority in the first round. Opinion polls indicate that Duda and Trzaskowski will secure about 40% and 30% of votes in the first round respectively. Joanna is confident that neither will be able to achieve a pure majority, which would necessitate a second round of voting to conclude the election. The outcome will be revealed in time.

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