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Poland Slouches on

After a noxious and underhanded campaign, Poland's incumbent president, representing the country's illiberal ruling party, has clinched a narrow re-election victory. That gives the government three more years to dismantle the country's democracy.

WARSAW – In the second round of Poland’s presidential election, incumbent Andrzej Duda narrowly defeated Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski. Though he carried just six provinces in eastern Poland, compared to Trzaskowski’s ten, and lost in medium and large cities, Duda’s support in villages and small towns was just enough to push him over the finish line.

As this outcome suggests, Poland’s political divisions increasingly reflect class divisions. The part of the country that went for Duda is decidedly poorer, with a per capita GDP of just 67% of the national average; the average unemployment rate in the provinces Duda won is 7-9%, compared to a nationwide rate of 5.4%.

Clearly, the social transfers launched by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and signed by Duda have proved effective electorally. The main opposition party, Civic Platform (PO), cannot shake its reputation as having “done nothing for ordinary people.” Voters still remember that it was PO that raised the retirement age in 2012, and that Trzaskowski served in the PO government of former Prime Minister Donald Tusk.