Voting was underway in Poland on Sunday amid strict hygiene and social distancing measures for a presidential ballot that has pitched the ruling nationalists against pro-european liberals.
This is one of the first elections to be held in Europe since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged earlier this year and Poles have been given the option of a postal vote to minimize the risk of contagion, reports Efe news.
Despite this, authorities said only 13,000 voters in the capital would use this option.
On Friday, National Electoral Commission chief Magdalena Pietrzak told 30 million Poles who are eligible to vote that masks and social distancing would be mandatory, local media reported.
Voting, that began at 7 a.m., will end at 9 p.m. and results were not expected to be published until Monday morning.
According to the most recent polls published on Friday, incumbent President Andrzej Duda, who is an independent candidate but has links to the ruling nationalists Law and Justice Party (PiS) is in a 10 point lead.
If he fails to secure 50 per cent of the votes, as predicted, a second round of elections will take place on July 12 where his main opponent, centre-right Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski could become the winner.
In third and fourth place, but at a great distance, are journalist Szymon Holownia and the far right candidate Krzysztof Bosak, among a total of 11 candidates.
According to a survey by Centre for Public Opinion Reasearch released on Friday, participation could be unusually high and stand at around 85 per cent in stark contrast to the last parliamentary elections in October 2019 when only 60 per cent turned out to vote.
The election has confronted supporters of the nationalist and eurosceptic of the ruling PiS party, which defends traditional values, with a centrist approach calling for the restoration of more freedoms and a Poland embedded in Europe.
European observers will be following the election closely as Duda's allies have clashed with European Union officials over judicial reforms that critics say undermine the rule of law.
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