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Most Poles want presidential vote postponed: survey

Poland has shut its borders and schools, limited public gatherings and freedom of movement to try to stem the spread of COVID-19
Poland has shut its borders and schools, limited public gatherings and freedom of movement to try to stem the spread of COVID-19 AFP
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Warsaw (AFP)

Poland's government was under growing pressure over its decision to maintain the May presidential election despite the coronavirus pandemic, after opposition objections and a new opinion poll released Wednesday.

The survey asked whether respondents thought the first round of the presidential election should still be held on May 10. Of the 1,100 people questioned, 72.2 percent said no.

The poll, carried out by the Ibris institute for the centrist Rzeczpospolita daily on March 23, reflects views already expressed by opposition politicians and some media outlets.

Opposition parties want the right-wing government to push back the election.

They argue that asking citizens to visit polling stations would go against the social distancing measures imposed by the administration and generally followed by the public.

Former liberal Polish Prime Minister and ex-EU President Donald Tusk, now the leader of the European People's Party (EPP), said in an interview that "only a fool or a criminal" would propose that people go vote in May.

According to the same Ibris survey, even 43 percent of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party's voters are in favour of postponing the election.

But PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, close ally President Andrzej Duda -- who is seeking reelection -- and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki are against changing the date.

"I don't see any reason today for university exams and the presidential election to not go ahead as planned," Morawiecki said Tuesday. He hoped the outbreak in Poland would abate after Easter, he added.

The consensus among commentators is that the governing conservatives are sticking to their guns because a new autumn election date could work against Duda, who is currently the frontrunner.

The popularity of PiS, whose approval rating tops 40 percent, is due in large part to its generous social benefits

But some analysts say those allowances could be scrapped later in the year to bolster the economy, which could in turn erode Duda's lead, according to analysts.

Poland, an EU member of 38 million people, has more than 950 confirmed cases of coronavirus and has recorded 13 deaths.

It shut its borders and schools earlier this month and has since limited public gatherings to two people and restricted freedom of movement to try to stem the spread of COVID-19.

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