Election posters of presidential incumbent Andrzej Duda and challenger Rafal Trzaskowski on a street in Krakow, Poland, on July 2. A runoff between the two is planned for July 12. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Election posters of presidential incumbent Andrzej Duda and challenger Rafal Trzaskowski on a street in Krakow, Poland, on July 2. A runoff between the two is planned for July 12. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Poles will vote on July 12 in a runoff election between incumbent President Andrzej Duda of the right-wing populist Law and Justice Party and Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski of the more progressive, pro-European Union Civic Platform. In the first round of voting in June, Duda failed to win an outright majority, while Trzaskowski earned roughly a third of the vote.

Ahead of the runoff, here is a look at how Polish people see their democracy, international relations and social issues in the country, based on a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2019.

  • About seven-in-ten Poles (71%) think voting gives them a say in how the government runs their country. This belief is more common among supporters of Duda’s Law and Justice Party: 83% of those with a favorable view of the party agree voting gives them a say in how their country is run, compared with 61% of those who view the party negatively. The share of Poles who think voting gives them influence in their country’s governance has risen steadily in the past two decades, increasing by 30 percentage points since 1991, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Positive assessments of the country’s economic situation have also become more common since 2002.
Poles less supportive than other Europeans of some key democratic values
  • Roughly six-in-ten Poles (63%) consider regular elections with two or more parties to be very important. A similar share (57%) thinks it is very important that human rights organizations can operate without state or government interference, while about half (49%) say the same about opposition parties operating freely. Overall, Poles tend to be less supportive of these democratic values than people in many other European countries.
  • Duda has highlighted his close relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump in his campaign for reelection, visiting the White House ahead of the initial vote. Roughly half (51%) of Poles view Trump favorably, the highest share across the EU countries surveyed in 2019. Those who favor Duda’s Law and Justice Party are more likely than those who do not to have a positive opinion of the U.S. president.
  • Duda’s campaign has leaned heavily on anti-LGBT rhetoric. In 2019, roughly half of Poles (47%) said homosexuality should be accepted by society. This is a relatively low share compared with other EU countries, but it is similar to the median of 46% across Central and Eastern Europe. Support for acceptance of homosexuality is much lower among supporters of Duda’s party than among those who do not favor the party. Only 36% of those with a positive opinion of the Law and Justice party think homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared with a majority (59%) of those who do not support the party.
  • Most Poles feel positively about the EU and their country’s membership in itTrzaskowski formerly served as a member of European Parliament and advocates greater integration with the EU. More than eight-in-ten Poles (84%) have a favorable view of the EU, the highest share among countries in the region. Additionally, about two-thirds (67%) think membership in the union is a good thing for Poland. Views of the EU and its value for Poles have grown more positive in recent years. Between 2018 and 2019, the share of Polish adults with a favorable view of the EU rose 12 points, from 72% to 84%. Poles have also become more likely to see EU membership positively: The share who say that membership in the EU has been a good thing for Poland rose from 48% in 2012 to 67% in 2019.
Mara Mordecai  is a research assistant focusing on global attitudes research at Pew Research Center.