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Poland's ex-leaders to boycott May presidential election

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WARSAW, Poland—All of Poland's living former presidents, and many ex-prime ministers, said Thursday they will boycott next month's presidential election that the ruling right-wing party is pushing for despite the coronavirus pandemic.

They said in a statement that the May 10 vote will be a pseudo-election and they have called on the 30 million eligible voters to boycott it, too.

President Andrzej Duda is seeking reelection, with backing from the ruling Law and Justice party, against a number of opposition candidates who are trailing him in opinion polls.

For the first time in Poland, the vote is to be by mail, but the necessary regulations have not yet been adopted by the parliament, raising concerns about whether the procedure can be successful.

The head of the state electoral commission, Sylwester Marciniak, said it may not be possible to properly organize the vote, given its complexity, the lack of regulations so close to the date and the strong opposition from many political forces.

The European Union and many pro-democracy organizations have expressed concern the vote will not be fully democratic or free.

The statement Thursday was signed by former presidents Lech Walesa, Aleksander Kwasniewski and Bronislaw Komorowski and some former prime ministers, including Ewa Kopacz, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, and Leszek Miller.

They said they will “not take part in the correspondence vote, i.e. pseudo-elections, and hope that the candidates and voters who share the concern for respecting the Constitution and the democratic future of Poland will do the same.”

On Wednesday, former prime minister and former European Council head Donald Tusk also called for a boycott, citing public health and legal concerns.

The government has indicated the vote may be put off by a week or two, but must be held in May.

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