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European Union Still Worried About Poland Vote Despite Delay

(AFP) The EU's top justice official warned Thursday that the bloc still had concerns about Poland's presidential election despite it being postponed.

Poland's governing parties announced on Wednesday they had agreed to delay Sunday's election after it became clear it would be impossible to conduct a postal ballot because of the coronavirus. "I welcome the debate which has taken place in Poland but we are clearly going to continue following preparations for the election," EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders told AFP.

"The concerns still remain the same." Opinion polls suggest that incumbent President Andrzej Duda, allied to the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, could capture more than 50 percent of the vote for a first-round victory.

The opposition had demanded a delay, arguing that a free, fair and safe vote could not be held during the coronavirus lockdown. Reynders echoed the concerns, saying "there has not been a true open campaign" and recalling that he had raised doubts about the vote late last month.

"The election as it was announced, by post, raised questions about the ability of all Poles, including those abroad, to take part," he said.

Moreover the postal ballot gave rise to doubts about data protection, he said, "since clearly there have been requests to the Polish postal service for personal data to prepare the election". While a new date for the ballot has not been fixed, Reynders said that if it is delayed long enough, "there is no reason the vote cannot take place physically in polling stations".

Brussels has clashed repeatedly in recent years with the right-wing PiS amid fears the party is undermining the rule of law in Poland.

Last week the European Commission launched a fourth legal challenge against Polish judicial reforms.


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(AFP)

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