An exit poll shows Polish President Andrzej Duda with the most votes in the country’s presidential election.
But the poll shows Mr Duda short of the 50% required for an outright win in the first round and, if it is confirmed by official results, he will face Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski in a run-off on July 12.
According to the projection by the Ipsos polling firm, Mr Duda won 41.8% and Mr Trzaskowski 30.4%. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2%.
Poland’s state electoral commission has said it would release the final official results by Wednesday evening.
Whether Mr Duda ultimately wins a second five-year term in two weeks’ time will determine whether the ruling nationalist party that backs him, Law and Justice, keeps its near-monopoly on political power in Poland.
The party has been in conflict with the European Union over laws that have given it control over top courts and key judicial bodies, something the 27-nation bloc has denounced as an erosion of democratic European values.
Opinion surveys conducted last week indicated that Mr Duda could have a more difficult time in a run-off given that many opposition voters would be expected to unite against him.
The candidate with the third most votes according to the exit poll was Szymon Holownia, a TV personality and journalist who had once studied to be a priest.
He was projected by the Ipsos poll to have 13.3%. Mr Holownia is unaffiliated with any party and generated enthusiasm among some Poles tired of years of bickering between Law and Justice and Civic Platform, the country’s two main parties.
Most of his supporters have said in surveys they would back Mr Trzaskowski in a run-off.
A far-right candidate, Krzysztof Bosak, was projected by the exit poll to win 7.4% of the vote, and his voters would also be up for grabs in the run-off.
The vote had been scheduled for May 10 but was postponed in a chaotic political and legal battle as the ruling party pressed to hold it despite the pandemic.
In April, Mr Duda had very high support and was expected then to win in a single round. He was helped by adulatory coverage in state media and the inability of other candidates to campaign.
But as restrictions eased, Mr Trzaskowski replaced an earlier candidate fielded by his Civic Platform party who had dismal poll numbers, adding a new dynamic and some suspense into the race.