Poland on Tuesday came a step closer to holding a presidential election, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, as parliament adopted rules allowing both postal and conventional voting in a ballot expected later this month.
Incumbent President Andrzej Duda, long considered the hands-down election frontrunner, appeared this week to be losing support as the economic hardship triggered by the coronavirus lockdown began to bite.
Backed by the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, Duda could even lose to liberal candidate and current Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, according to the latest opinion polls.
Duda signed the new voting rules into law within hours of their adoption by parliament, a tweet by presidential spokesman Blazej Spychalski confirmed late Tuesday.
The election had originally been scheduled for May 10 but was pushed back at the last minute by powerful PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski amid a political crisis set off by the pandemic.
Kaczynski has since said he wants the ballot held on June 28th.
Parliament speaker Elzbieta Witek, a PiS party member, is expected to call the election in the coming days.
The PiS government and the liberal opposition spent weeks in a stalemate over how to proceed with the ballot, which had been mired in issues ranging from health and practical concerns to constitutional and democracy questions.
The election crisis came within the broader context of long-standing EU concerns about democratic standards in Poland.
The European Commission has launched four infringement procedures against PiS-authored judicial reforms, which it says test democracy and the rule of law by undermining judicial independence.
Poland, a country of 38 million people, has recorded 24,395 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 1,092 deaths, according to official data.