Poland’s Supreme Court Monday approved the results of last month’s presidential election, allowing conservative incumbent President Andrzej Duda to continue his presidency, but also recognizing that there had been dozens of irregularities in the election process.
The election had been hotly contested with Duda’s populist right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party narrowly winning a majority with 51% and his opposition to the liberal Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski from the Civic Platform party coming in a close second with 49%.
Supporters of Trzaskowski quickly filed suit challenging both the narrow victory of Duda and the overall fairness of the process leading up to the election, asking that the results be declared invalid. The challenge contained numerous allegations, including that the state television network TVP had strongly favored Duda, widespread issues with voter registration, limited access to mechanisms for international Poles to vote, and tens of thousands of lost or uncounted ballots. They also challenged the legitimacy of moving forward with the election during the COVID-19 pandemic, the limited ability of the opposition to campaign during it, and the unfair advantage such limitations give to an incumbent.
The Supreme Court reviewed more than 5,800 complaints but upheld a mere 93 of them, citing a lack of sufficient proof for many of the remaining complaints. Given that Duda won by nearly half a million votes, the court ruled that the 93 complaints that were validated could not affect the overall outcome of the election. Trzaskowski’s supporters argue that those complaints are symptomatic of widespread issues throughout the election and have continued to maintain that the election itself was unfair.
As the highest legal authority in Poland, the Supreme Court’s decision is final and cannot be appealed. The decision itself does not come as a surprise considering the recent restructuring of the Polish judicial system by Duda and the increased control it granted to the President over the Supreme Court.
The result is disappointing for leftist parties throughout Europe as the Polish election had been internationally heralded as a referendum on the growing popularity of far-right political parties in Europe. Besides a strong conservative platform, Duda is also very ardently anti-LGBTQ rights, often publically criticizing that community and has attempted to prevent LGTBQ couples from adopting, he has also faced accusations of antisemitism for his condemnation of requests that Poland compensate Jewish victims of the holocaust in Poland during Second World War.