February 5, 2020 / 11:13 AM / 17 days ago

Poland to hold first round of presidential election on May 10

FILE PHOTO: Civic Coalition's candidate for prime minister, Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska speaks as Civic Platform leader Grzegorz Schetyna looks on after the exit poll results are announced in Warsaw, Poland, October 13, 2019. REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel/File Photo

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland will hold the first round of its presidential election on May 10, a vote that will decide whether the ruling nationalists can press ahead with policies criticised by Brussels and the opposition.

The Law and Justice (PiS) party has vowed to pursue judicial reforms that critics say have marginalised Poland in the EU, but a defeat for the incumbent, PiS ally Andrzej Duda, would threaten the government’s agenda as the president has the power to veto laws.

“This year we have very important elections,” Elzbieta Witek, the parliamentary speaker, told reporters. “The presidential elections will be held on May 10.”

Duda is ahead in the polls, with a survey in the weekly Polityka giving him 41.7% in the first round. Opponents include Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska of the centre-right Civic Platform, and Robert Biedron of the Left grouping.

If nobody gets more than 50% of votes, a second round is held two weeks later, and the candidate with the most votes wins.

On Tuesday, Duda stepped up the conflict with Brussels by signing a law that critics say aims to muzzle judges critical of the government’s reforms. Poland has also clashed with the EU over migration and climate change, among other issues.

PiS won a second term in October on the back of promises to raise living standards to match those of the West and hefty social handouts.

However, the party lost control of the upper house, the Senate. While the Senate can delay bills and its speaker, Tomasz Grodzki, has taken a prominent role in opposing PiS’s judicial policies, it cannot block bills entirely, a power reserved for the president.

Reporting by Joanna Plucinska; Writing by Alan Charlish; Editing by Marcin Goclowski and Giles Elgood

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