Poland heads for election run-off

Bronislaw Komorowski, after first round of Polish presidential election Bronislaw Komorowski came first - but not by as much as expected

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Poland's presidential election is heading for a second round, with no single candidate getting enough votes to win Sunday's first round outright.

Bronislaw Komorowski, who has been acting leader since President Lech Kaczynski died in a plane crash on 10 April, won but by less than expected.

With 94% of votes counted, he had won 41.22%, compared to the 36.74% taken by Kaczynski's twin brother, Jaroslaw.

The two will now go head-to-head in a run-off on 4 July.

Lech Kaczynski was one of 96 people who died in the plane crash in Smolensk in western Russia.

Analysis

Perhaps the biggest surprise is how well Jaroslaw Kaczynski did, trailing Bronislaw Komorowski by just 4.5%.

Before April's plane crash, Mr Kaczynski was one of the least trusted politicians in Poland. The combative and euro-sceptic former prime minister, who antagonised neighbours Germany and Russia, was voted out of office in 2007.

He appears to have maintained his core support of socially conservative voters, and won over others by presenting himself as a changed man, prepared to compromise with opponents, in the wake of his own personal loss.

Both candidates will now vie for those who voted for the third-placed left-wing candidate. Mr Komorowski's views on gender equality and state-funding for IVF treatment are closer to the left, but Mr Kaczynski could win over some with his warnings about the excesses of free-market liberalism.

The dead included many of Poland's political and military leaders, and the disaster has overshadowed the election campaign and made it one of the country's least aggressive, BBC Warsaw correspondent Adam Easton said.

However, the next fortnight of campaigning is likely to be more divisive, as both men strive to pick up votes from the third-placed left-wing candidate, our correspondent adds.

The disaster also boosted the ratings of the late president's twin, Jaroslaw, a combative conservative former prime minister who was voted out of office three years ago.

His personal loss has changed him, our correspondent says, and hehas presented himself as a man of compromise.

Mr Kaczynski voted on Sunday in Warsaw accompanied by his late brother's daughter and two granddaughters.

Mr Komorowski comes from the same Civic Platform party as Prime Minister Donald Tusk - a feature thought to appeal to many voters, who tired of the tensions between the government and the late president.

The centre-right parliamentary speaker, who is now the acting president, says his whole career proves that he is a man who can unite the nation.

Start Quote

I think Jaroslaw Kaczynski has used this tragedy for his own benefit”

End Quote Ewa, Krakow

Both candidates appealed to national unity during an election overshadowed by April's plane crash and recent floods that killed 24 people and forced thousands from their homes.

Turnout in the election was reported to be just short of 55%. More than 30 million of Poland's 38 million citizens were registered to vote.

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Guardian.co.uk Komorowski leads in tight Polish election race - Reuters - 13 hrs ago
Financial TimesKaczynski closes gap in Polish race - 15 hrs ago
Daily Express Polish election tight - exit poll - 16 hrs ago
Telegraph Poland elections: interim president in the lead - 17 hrs ago
The Independent Polish presidential election goes to a run-off - 18 hrs ago
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