RÚV reports that an overwhelming majority of Polish voters in Iceland would have preferred Warsaw’s mayor and opposition candidate Rafał Trzaskowski (pictured above) in the Polish presidential elections held on July 12th. Sitting president Andrzej Duda was reelected by a marginal majority.
As reported, Duda and Trzaskowski emerged as the front runners in the election, representing the ruling right-wing populist Law and Justice Party (PiS) and liberal-conservative Civic Platform Party (PO). The elections had originally been scheduled for the beginning of May, but had been controversially delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, despite uncertainty as to the delay’s legality and popular mistrust of the mail-in option. In the first round of voting on June 28th, Duda and Trzaskowski received 43.6 and 30.3% of the votes respectively with a 64.4% turnout, ensuring that they would face off again in a second round of voting two weeks later.
3,174 votes were cast at the Polish Embassy in Reykjavik during the second round of elections, 2,533 (79.8%) of which were for Trzaskowski, compared to the 641 votes (20.20%) for Duda.
All in all 4,520 voters had the right to submit absentee ballots to the Polish Embassy. At 71%, the turnout of Polish voters in Iceland was higher than Poland’s 68%, which is considered a very good turnout for a Polish presidential election.
The whole election campaign operated within quite narrow margins, with there usually only being less than a single percentage point between the two candidates in opinion polls conducted during the second round of elections. Polling stations in Poland closed on Sunday night, but Duda was not officially declared the winner until late Monday morning. He won with 51.2% of the votes, with Trzaskowski receiving 48.8%.
Unlike in Icelandic elections, votes in Polish elections are counted at polling stations, allowing for far more detailed information on where candidates receive their votes. Votes were counted at the Polish Embassy in Reykjavik and the results were published on the Polish government’s election website.
The provincial breakdown of the election results shows that Duda got the most support in the country’s eastern provinces, winning his greatest majority in the southeastern Podcarpackie Province near the borders with Slovakia and Ukraine. Trzaskowski got many more votes in western Polish provinces.
The LGBT+ community has faced a steady growth of hatred and backlash over the years since Duda’s PiS party came to power, with the party disseminating propaganda branding queerness as a foreign import, calling it an “ideology more dangerous than communism,” rolling back legislation to protect the community, and cracking down on any expression of descent. The government’s hateful and homophobic crackdown finds perhaps its most infamous iteration in the widely-reported “LGBT-free zones” declared by local Polish governments, especially in the conservative southeastern provinces where the PiS enjoys nearly unchallenged support. One-third of Poland’s nearly 38 million-strong population now live in one of these zones.
Trzaskowski is known as something of an LGBT+ activist in Poland, signing a declaration last year promising support and protection for Warsaw’s LGBT+ community, such as for young members of the community, particularly those disowned by their families, backing civil partnerships for same-sex couples, and calling for sex education in Polish schools aligned with the World Health Organization’s guidelines, rather than Catholic teachings.
LGBT+ people in Poland unsurprisingly report feeling angry, fearful, unsafe, and unwelcome following the results of Sunday’s election. Activists in the community warn that the Polish government’s hateful and oppressive legislation is a reiteration of the 2013 law banning “gay propaganda” in Russia. Mariusz Kurc, editor of Replika, Poland’s only LGBT+ magazine, states “…it was so humiliating. Like in 2020, I have to say I am human? It’s horrible. When the results of the election came out, I felt fear. It was pure fear that the situation is not going to get any better, the situation is not going to stay as it is – the situation is going to get worse.”
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