President Andrzej Duda of Poland has been re-elected despite critics accusing his campaign of employing antisemitic tropes to smear his main rival.
The conservative incumbent from the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party, who is a fan of US President Donald Trump, was up against Rafal Trzaskowski, the liberal mayor of Warsaw, and won narrowly with 51.2 percent of the votes.
During the campaign, the pro-government weekly newspaper Sieci accused Trzaskowski of supporting paedophilia, while state television – which critics say has become Duda’s mouthpiece – suggested that Trzaskowski would be controlled by Jewish interests, including on the restitution of property in Poland.
To reiterate the point, Law and Justice party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told a Catholic radio station that the Warsaw mayor lacked a “Polish soul” and a “Polish heart.”
At a campaign rally last week, Trzaskowski called it out, asking supporters: “Have you ever heard such homophobia, such antisemitism, such attacks on everybody who is brave enough to say ‘We have had enough’?”
Duda’s promises to support “traditional family values” and his attacks on LGBT+ rights led to support for his candidacy from church leaders, seen as vital in a staunchly Catholic country such as Poland.
Yet he has is a divisive figure, and earlier this year London Mayor Sadiq Khan arranged for a £300,000 City Hall donation to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation, saying he was motivated by “people re-writing history”.
Khan said he was anxious about the way in which the Polish government was speaking about its role in relation to the Nazi genocide, citing a decision by Duda to block the reappointment of a director at the museum of the history of Polish Jews in Warsaw.