Poland's Komorowski, Kaczynski Face Runoff for Presidency, Exit Polls Show

Bronislaw Komorowski fell short of an absolute majority in the first round of Poland’s presidential election, setting up a runoff with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, brother of the late head of state, exit polls show.

Komorowski, the acting president and candidate of Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform party, got 45.7 percent of the vote, while Kaczynski, took 33.2 percent, according to an exit poll by MillwardBrown SMG/KRC for TVN television. An exit poll by TNS OBOP for Polish State Television showed Komorowski leading 40.7 percent to 35.8 percent. The State Elections Committee plans to release final results tomorrow evening.

A Komorowski victory would give Civic Platform control of the presidency and cabinet, ending policy divisions that arose under the late President Lech Kaczynski, who died April 10 in a plane crash in Russia. That may help Poland, the European Union’s biggest eastern member, pursue euro adoption and spending cuts needed to comply with the EU’s deficit limit.

“Komorowski has a sufficient cushion so that unless something untoward happens he should win in the second round quite comfortably,” Nigel Rendell, senior emerging market strategist at RBC Capital in London, said before the polls were released. “That would be the market’s favorite outcome.”

The president represents Poland abroad, is head of the army and can veto legislation. His veto can be overturned by a three- fifths majority in parliament.

Decisive Votes

Grzegorz Napieralski, chairman of the Democratic Left Alliance, finished third, with 13.4 percent of the vote, according to MillwardBrown SMG/KRC. Where these votes go will be decisive in the second round, said Beata Laciak, a sociology professor at Warsaw University.

“Napieralski holds the keys to the vault and he’ll be wooed intensively,” Laciak, who studies voter attitudes, said by telephone.

Komorowski will probably pick up more votes from the Left Democrats than Kaczynski, Laciak said. Sixty-six percent of Napieralski voters listed the acting president as their preferred alternative in a June 10-13 survey by researcher CBOS, while Kaczynski was named by 11 percent.

Komorowski, 58, said last week that Poland needs to establish a timeline for adopting the euro to ensure responsible economic policies.

‘Create Pressure’

“Some sort of date needs to be given to create pressure to fulfill the euro-eligibility criteria,” Komorowski said June 14 in the western city of Poznan. “That would trigger a period of public-finance reform.”

Tusk’s government has proposed limiting increases in discretionary spending to no more than 1 percent above inflation, saving an estimated 9 billion zloty ($2.7 billion) a year by 2013. That will help narrow the deficit to less than the EU limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product within three years, Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski said June 11.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, 61, chairman of the largest opposition party, Law & Justice, has said he would continue his brother’s policy of opposing setting a date for euro entry. The late president was the last EU leader before Czech President Vaclav Klaus to sign the Lisbon Treaty, intended to streamline EU institutions and lay the foundation for the bloc’s enlargement.

Law & Justice last year called for an increase in spending to offset the impact of the first global recession since the 1930s. Poland is the only EU member to have avoided an economic contraction since the credit crisis started.

Hindrance

“If we get Kaczynski, things will look a lot more uncertain,” Rendell said. “People are fearful that he might go the same way as his brother as being more of a hindrance than a help.”

Even with a cooperative head of state, Tusk may be reticent to make large changes in public policy as he seeks to consolidate support in two elections over the next 12 months, said Elisabeth Andreew, an economist at Nordea Bank AB in Copenhagen, said in a note to clients.

“We do not expect any massive reform packages in the near- term perspective, as it may affect the outcome of the November local elections and the parliamentary elections in 2011,” Andreew said before the exit polls were released.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dorota Bartyzel in Warsaw at dbartyzel@bloomberg.net;

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