Poland’s presidential run-off election between the conservative incumbent and the liberal, pro-Europe mayor of Warsaw is too close to call, an exit poll suggests.

The poll by the Ipsos institute showed President Andrzej Duda with 50.4% of the vote and challenger Rafal Trzaskowski with 49.6%.

But the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points, and the difference between the two 48-year-old candidates is within the poll’s margin of error, meaning it is not yet possible to say with certainty who won.

Poland Presidential Election
A man walks past campaign posters showing the two contenders in Poland’s presidential election run-off (Czarek Sokolowski/AP)

Official results are expected on Monday or Tuesday.

Mr Duda, who is backed by the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party and the government, campaigned on traditional values and social spending in this mostly Catholic nation as he sought a second five-year term.

Mr Trzaskowski, a former European Parliament lawmaker, jumped into the race relatively late to oppose Mr Duda’s denigration of urban liberals, the LGBT community and other minorities and to counter an erosion of democratic rights under the ruling party.

He represented the centrist opposition Civic Platform party that was in power in from 2007 to 2015.

The result is expected to lead to starkly different political paths for Poland, at least until 2023, when the next parliamentary election is scheduled.

Poland Presidential Election
Voters, wearing masks and maintaining a social distance, queue outside a polling station in Lomianki near Warsaw Czarek Sokolowski/AP)

The State Electoral Commission said the turnout by 5pm was 52.1%, more than four points higher than at that time in the first round of voting on June 28 — one sign of just how much Poles on both sides feel their nation’s future is at stake.

The ballot was supposed to be held in May but after much political wrangling was delayed by health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 30 million voters are eligible to cast ballots. In the first round, Mr Duda got 43.5% support and Mr Trzaskowski 30.5%.

Poland Presidential Election
Strict hygiene measures were in place at polling stations (Czarek Sokolowski/AP)

If Mr Duda is re-elected, the right-wing Law and Justice party that backs him will continue to have a close ally in the president and maintain its hold on almost all key instruments of power in the country.

A win for Mr Trzaskowski would give him the power to veto laws passed by the ruling party. Poland’s tone would also be softened in the international arena and especially with the EU.

Mr Duda voted in his home city of Krakow while Mr Trzaskowski voted in his wife’s southern home town of Rybnik.

“This is a civic duty but also a privilege because this is a very important election,” Mr Trzaskowski said after voting. “I hope the turnout will really be high.”