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Politics & society

Polish opposition protests election results

By Darren Kóvacs 2020-07-19
The expert addressed one last complaint that may have some legal basis
Rafal Trzaskowski on the verge of launching a string of accusations. However congratulated his opponent on his victory.

Although Rafal Trzaskowski, the Polish presidential election's losing candidate, congratulated his opponent on his victory, he was on the verge of launching a string of accusations. Ordo Iuris Vice President Tymoteusz Zych told V4NA that the Polish opposition's objections were not exactly legal in nature, and oftentime ridiculous.

Duda has won the election because Polish citizens abroad didn't receive letters in time or couldn't register for the vote

Although opposition candidate Rafal Trzaskowski congratulated Polish President Andrzej Duda on his re-election a week ago, his party wants to challenge the results citing mostly trumped-up allegations. They demand that the election results be declared invalid, arguing that the entire state administration broke the law. The have also announced that they would lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court.

Tymoteusz Zych, vice-president of the Ordo Iuris legal research institute, told V4NA that the objections raised by the opposition cannot go accepted by the court because they are either not legal in their nature, or in some cases simply ridiculous.

"They criticised the fact that there was no debate between Trzaskowski and Duda," he said, adding that "never in my entire life have I ever heard of a country, where a debate between the two rival candidates was a legal election requirement." He also pointed out that the irony of the situation stems precisely from the fact that Mr Duda did make an attempt to invite Trzaskowski to a debate during his campaign, which Mr Trzaskowski refused and arranged another debate on the same date, where he invited the incumbent president.

Because of his campaign the president, of course, was out of town at that time, allowing Mr Trzaskowski to make critical comments, such as President Duda did not undertake the one-on-one debate.

Commenting with a laughter

Later, the liberal candidate argued that he had decided against a live presidential debate to take place on Poland's public broadcaster because the channel is considered a pro-government media outlet, and the opposition filed a legal complaint citing biased media coverage. Commenting with a laughter, Zych said public media in Poland has always leaned towards the ruling government.

He added that the public broadcaster's viewership rates are rather low and viewers can always use the remote to switch to other channels. In light of all this, it is difficult to see what constitutes the legal basis of the opposition's complaint, he said.

And finally, the expert addressed one last complaint that may have some legal basis: the opposition says President Duda has won the election because Polish citizens abroad didn't receive letters in time or couldn't register for the vote. Zych pointed out that approximately 800 thousand Poles were eligible to vote from abroad, adding that typically around 60 per cent of those formally registered end up actually mailing their postal votes.

This figure was exceptionally high, 80 per cent this year, implying that only 20 per cent of Poles living abroad decided not to vote. He admitted that there may have been sporadic problems with registration or some late deliveries as the pandemic has causes disruptions in postal services.

Eventually won by a margin

However, based on previous statistics, there is no indication that those who make up the 20 per cent of non-voters would have wanted to mail their votes. Zych also casually remarked that although Trzaskowski and President Duda were head-to-head in the race, Mr Duda eventually won by a margin of approximately 500 hundred thousand votes. Even if we assume that all non-voters abroad would have voted against Duda, 20 per cent translates into roughly 160 thousand votes, he said.

"I don't think the opposition's appeal will make a big impact in court," Zych concluded briefly.

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