Polish President Seen Eking Out Runoff Victory as Support Fades

President Bronislaw Komorowski will probably need a runoff to defend his post as contenders that include a former punk band frontman deprive Poland’s most trusted politician of a majority in Sunday’s election, a poll showed.

Support for Komorowski in a possible second-round ballot on May 24 dropped 14 percentage points from February to 51 percent, according to an April 16-22 survey by research company CBOS. Backing for top challenger Andrzej Duda, who represents the opposition Law & Justice party, jumped 15 points to 34 percent. The poll of 1,027 adults gave no margin of error.

Komorowski is hemorrhaging popularity two months after he was poised to win another five-year term in the first round. While the incumbent has built his campaign by promising steady stewardship at the time of increased security threats stemming from Russia, Duda countered by putting the spotlight on economic issues. Other voters are flocking to a maverick ex-rock star, Pawel Kukiz, who has seen his support grow to more than 10 percent from less then 5 percent back in March.

“While Kukiz isn’t taking votes from Komorowski, he’s still encouraging people to go and cast their ballot,” Olgierd Annusewicz, a political analyst at Warsaw University, said by phone. “Yet the numbers still favor the incumbent in the second round, although it won’t be anything spectacular.”

Sporting casual attire that’s changed little since his music days, Kukiz has appealed to Poles’ sense of national pride, calling emigration by young people to Ireland and the U.K. in search of jobs “an extermination spread over time.”

Kukiz’s supporters will split their vote 53 percent to 36 percent in favor of Duda in the second round, according to CBOS.

Duda, the Law & Justice candidate, has questioned Komorowski’s foreign policy credentials and sought to exploit the electorate’s fear that future euro adoption would make everything from groceries to mortgage payments more expensive.

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