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Poles vote in tight presidential run-off

Video by Nicholas RUSHWORTH , Stephen CLARKE

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2010-07-04

Poles are voting Sunday in a tight presidential run-off pitting acting President Bronislaw Komorowski against conservative Jaroslaw Kaczynski. The election was triggered by late President Lech Kaczynski's death in a plane crash in April.

REUTERS - Poles voted on Sunday in a presidential election run-off that will help to decide the speed and scale of economic reforms, and set the tone for Warsaw's relations with its European Union partners and Russia
 
The election was called after President Lech Kaczynski and other top officials died in a plane crash in Russia on April 10.
 
It pits Kaczynski's identical twin Jaroslaw, the combative eurosceptic leader of the main right-wing opposition party, against Bronislaw Komorowski, candidate of Poland's ruling centrist Civic Platform (PO).
 

Most opinion polls have signalled a victory for Komorowski, who automatically became acting president on Lech Kaczynski's death in his role as speaker of parliament.
 
However, polls usually underestimate support for Kaczynski, who has narrowed the gap in recent weeks and lagged by just five percentage points in a first round of voting on June 20.
 
Financial markets favour a Komorowski presidency, expecting him to work smoothly with Prime Minister Donald Tusk's market-oriented government as it tries to rein in a big budget deficit while keeping a fragile economic recovery on track.
 
But Kaczynski's blend of Catholic piety, his opposition to spending cuts and privatisation and his distrust of big business, EU bureaucrats and Poland's historic foe Russia strike a deep chord, especially among older, poorer and provincial voters.
 
"I voted for Kaczynski because he is better for ordinary people, workers, farmers and beekeepers," said Stanislaw Przybysz selling honey out of a van on a Warsaw street.
 
In Poland, the government led by the prime minister sets policy, but the president can propose and veto laws, appoints many key officials and has a say in foreign and security policy.
 
The Komorowski camp fears that the mid-summer timing of the election, combined with unusually hot weather, will help Kaczynski as its younger, wealthier core voters are more likely to take holidays and fail to cast their ballots.
 
But on Saturday the election commission issued hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots enabling people to vote while away on holiday.
 
On Sunday it announced that more than 26 percent of eligible voters had cast their ballots after seven hours of Sunday voting, three percent more than at the same time a fortnight ago when the total turnout amounted to 54 percent.
 
"The turnout may be higher because emotions are running higher and each side has mobilised its supporters," Tusk said after voting with his wife and daughter in his Baltic hometown Sopot.

Date created : 2010-07-04

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