• Duda accused opponent Rafal Trzaskowski of kowtowing to foreign interests
  • The election puts the Law and Justice party firmly in charge through at least 2023 when parliamentary elections are scheduled
  • Duda's government has been accused of undermining the rule of law and democratic institutions

Populist Polish President Andrzej Duda narrowly won reelection in what was characterized as the tightest race since the fall of communism in 1989. Like U.S. President Donald Trump, Duda and his Law and Justice party used campaign rhetoric bashing gays, foreigners and the European Union.

The victory paves the way for a conservative nationalist government to rule through 2023, when the next round of parliamentary elections is scheduled.

With 99.9% of the voted counted, Duda led liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, 51.21% to 48.78%. Trzaskowski conceded.

Trzaskowski was backed by young people, with the support concentrated in major cities like Gdansk and Krakow. Like Trump, Duda’s support came from older, more religious Poles and those living in more rural areas who have failed to benefit from the transition to capitalism from communism.

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said Monday Duda would continue to advance “pro-family policies” and judicial reform “so everything is more professional, faster.”

The European Union has accused Poland, once one of the most pro-EU countries in Eastern Europe, of undermining democratic values and institutions, with critics charging the rule of law is threatened. Duda has dismissed those concerns and like Trump sees conspiracies linked to billionaire investor George Soros and the Bilderberg group, which fosters dialog between Europe and North America.

Arkadiusz Mularczyk, a Law and Justice lawmaker, told Reuters the EU has largely supported the opposition.

“Polish society is not accepting this,” he said.

Duda’s rhetoric featured homophobic slurs, media attacks and accusations Trzaskowski was allied with foreign interests and would sell out Polish interests to “Jewish demands” for Holocaust reparations.

Law and Justice, which first came to power in 2015, has taken issue with EU positions on climate change, migration and other issues, and the elections sets the stage for further conflict.

Observers have warned Duda’s victory will mean the government likely will tighten political control and step up efforts to suppress private media, the Guardian reported.

Duda’s term runs five years.