Andrzej Duda
Andrzej DudaReuters

Polish President Andrzej Duda was ahead by a tiny margin in the country’s presidential election but the result is too close to call, an exit poll on Sunday showed, according to AFP.

Duda was on 50.4 percent in the poll by Ipsos published just after polls closed at 1900 GMT.

Duda's rival, liberal Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, who has promised to heal ties with Brussels by rolling back a controversial reform of the judiciary, was shown just behind on 49.6 percent.

The result of the vote will be decisive for the governing party, which is accused by critics of eroding hard-won democratic freedoms just three decades after the end of communist rule.

Duda's support is strong in rural areas and small towns and the east of the country, while Trzaskowski performed well in larger cities and western regions on the border with Germany.

The election had been due to be held in May but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Duda's support has slipped considerably since then, partly because of the virus fallout, which is pushing Poland into its first recession since communism fell.

The incumbent won round one on June 28 with 43.5 percent against 10 challengers, including Trzaskowski who came second with 30.4 percent and has campaigned hard to sway voters who backed other opposition candidates.

Duda has led a controversial campaign, attacking LGBT rights and ruling out certain Jewish wartime compensation claims.

Poland and Israel had a brief falling out in 2018 after Poland passed a law which criminalizes blaming the Polish nation or people for crimes committed by Germany during World War II.

However, Poland later decided to amend its controversial Holocaust Law and remove criminal penalties and jail sentences from the law. Following that, President Reuven Rivlin spoke with Duda and stressed that relations between Israel and Poland are good and warm.