Poland`s presidential election set for June 20

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - 18:07

Warsaw: Presidential elections in Poland to find a successor to Lech Kaczynski, who perished in an air crash, were set for June 20 on Wednesday by the country`s interim leader.

"Bronislaw Komorowski has taken the decision to call elections for the president of the republic of Poland on June 20," the parliamentary press service said in a statement.

All eyes are on Kaczynski`s identical twin Jaroslaw -- who was prime minister in 2006-2007 in tandem with his presidential sibling.
The 60-year-old has been widely tipped to run, and his conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party is to take a decision on Saturday.

"In my view, Jaroslaw Kaczynski is the natural candidate," Maks Kraczkowski, secretary of PiS` political strategy council, told Poland`s PAP news agency.

"But the decision lies with him," he added.

Deeply unpopular after his time in office Jaroslaw Kaczynski has made no public statement about his future since his brother and several long-time political allies were killed in the April 10 crash in Russia.

Under the law, the names of would-be candidates must be presented to Poland`s electoral commission by Monday.

"I`m convinced that Jaroslaw Kaczynski will stand for president," political scientist Stanislaw Mocek told agency.

"He will want in a sense to fulfil the political destiny of his late brother. And PiS doesn`t have any other candidate with enough clout," he said.

Parliamentary speaker Komorowski, 57, became acting head of state after Lech Kaczynski, his wife Maria and scores of other top Polish political and military figures died when the presidential jet crashed near Smolensk, western Russia. There were no survivors among the 96 people on board.
In a bitter irony, the plane was heading to ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of a Soviet World War II massacre of thousands of Polish officers in the nearby Katyn forest.

National mourning has brought rare unity to Poland`s fractious political scene.

A regularly scheduled presidential election had been due by October, with Komorowski already picked to run for Poland`s governing liberal Civic Platform (PO).

He was expected to beat Lech Kaczynski, a highly divisive figure at home and abroad whose popularity flagged after his first victory in 2005.

Poland`s deputy speaker of parliament and ex-defence minister, Jerzy Szmajdzinski, of the opposition ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance, also died in the crash. He had been due to stand in the autumn ballot.
Komorowski opted for June 20 after cross-party talks. It was the latest date possible, to give the parties who lost their candidates time to marshal their forces.

If no candidate receives over 50 percent of valid votes on June 20, a second run-off round must be held on July 4 between the top-ranked two.

Polls published Wednesday tipped Komorowski the clear front-runner.

The Rzeczpospolita broadsheet found he would get 49 percent of the first-round vote compared with Jaroslaw Kaczynki`s 26 percent, with both men outpacing all possible rivals across the political spectrum.

A poll in the tabloid Fakt showed Komorowski would win a second round easily with 55 percent against Kaczynski`s 32 percent.

"Politics is back in Poland and with it comes conflict, arguments and -- let`s have no illusions -- scandal-mongering battles," wrote Wojciech Maziarski, chief editor of the Polish edition of Newsweek.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - 18:07

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