Poland’s largest opposition party, the centre-right Civic Platform (PO), filed a complaint with the Supreme Court on July 23 seeking a repeat of this month’s presidential election on the grounds that it was unfair.
The incumbent ally of the ruling coaltion led by the Law and Justice (PiS) party, Andrzej Duda, won the contest on July 12, scooping just over 51% of the votes. Duda’s rival, PO’s Rafal Trzaskowski, won nearly 49%.
PO claims that the government interference in the campaign skewed the final outcome. State-owned broadcaster TVP played a particularly negative role, according to PO, by presenting its viewers “Belarus-like” coverage of the election campaign. PO wants the Supreme Court to declare the election unfair, which would give grounds to annul its results and carry out a new vote.
In the weeks ahead of the vote, TVP did run a very biased coverage, praising Duda and attacking Trzaskowski, especially in its flagship evening news programme Wiadomosci. It had a viewership of around 3.3mn in March-May – a 23% share of the market – according to recent research by media analytics company Nielsen.
The European election watchdog, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), part of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said earlier this month that TVP’s “biased coverage tarnished the election”.
“[The coverage was] marked by homophobic, xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric,” ODIHR said.
PO’s is just one of over 5,800 protests against the fairness of the election that the Supreme Court received recently, the court’s spokeswoman Martyna Luczak told Reuters. The court is yet to announce when it will look into the protests.
The PiS government says the complaints are not valid as there were not any problems with the fairness of the election.
Duda’s victory has given PiS three years of virtually unchallenged power until 2023, when the next general election will be held.
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