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Poland's tight presidential race to get tighter

brussels bureau

Poland's tight presidential race to get tighter


Poland’s presidential election on Sunday saw centrist candidate Bronislaw Komorowski narrowly beat right-wing rival Jaroslaw Kaczynski. It points to a tight run-off vote on July 4.

The candidate of Poland’s ruling pro-business Civic Platform took some 41% of the vote, to opposition leader Kaczynski’s nearly 37%.

After the death in a plane crash of Kaczynski’s twin, Lech, triggered the election, the speaker of parliament, Komorowski, has been acting president.

He shares a vision of Poland firmly in the European mainstream, and striving for better ties with Russia.

Analyst Paweł Świeboda has studied his performance: “He is definitely the frontrunner in this campaign but he’s also a pretty unspectacular candidate. He is for stability, predictability, consolidation but there are no fireworks in his campaign.”

Kaczynski is a combative nationalist. When his brother Lech was president, and before that prime minister, it reinforced Poland’s image in the European arena as a difficult country to work with.

The Kaczynski appeal is therefore associated with uncertainty.

Paweł Świeboda again: “Jaroslaw Kaczynski wasn’t himself in the first round. He tried to reinvent himself as a moderate politician. I think his mask will fall off now and we will see a much closer struggle of these two frontrunners in the second round.”

Grzegorz Napieralski, the former communist SLD party’s candidate won a surprisingly strong 14 percent of Sunday’s vote.

Analyst Piotr Kaczyński does not expect that round two voting will change national feeling much:
“The problem for the outcome of the election will be only who of these voters will swift to Bronislaw Komorowski, but in terms of public perception of policies not much has changed, the Poles remain conservative on most of the controversial issues, with nevertheless exceptions such as (legalisation of) in vitro.”

Financial markets would prefer a Komorowski victory because he would be expected to work smoothly with the economically liberal government, in which emotions take second place in tackling budget deficits and preparing the country for eventual euro adoption.

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brussels bureau