Polish President Gets Endorsement to Salvage Re-Election Bid

Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski won an endorsement from his most-successful predecessor in a bid to revive his struggling re-election campaign.

The incumbent, who suffered a surprise one percentage point loss to opposition candidate Andrzej Duda in a first round of voting on Sunday, gained the support of Aleksander Kwasniewski, the country’s only two-term president since the fall of communism in 1989. The unexpected voting result shook Poland’s currency and bonds, which have benefited from years of political stability under Komorowski’s Civic Platform party allies.

With the runoff slated for May 24, the clock is ticking on Komorowski to arrest his plummeting support and turn around a campaign that’s become a referendum on the Platform’s eight-year rule amid the conflict in neighboring Ukraine. His backing collapsed to 33.8 percent on Sunday from more than 60 percent three months ago as he struggled to fend off criticism that many Poles have missed out on economic growth.

“This election shows that we’re faced with a dilemma -- whether what matters more is experience and predictability or change and the risk that goes with it,” Kwasniewski, president from 1995 to 2005, said at a news conference with Komorowski in Warsaw. “Considering the world we live in and the situation in our region, the experience, capital and great contacts are most important for Poland.”

Duda, a member of the European Union’s parliament and Poland’s Law & Justice party, won with 34.8 percent on a campaign that pledged to overturn a decision to raise the retirement age, create jobs and raise taxes on banks and foreign-owned supermarkets.

Defiant Punk

Pawel Kukiz, a combat boot-wearing former punk rocker turned politician, has also tapped into a feeling of discontent against the ruling party. Appealing to mostly younger voters, he came in third on Sunday with 21 percent of the vote. His backers are set to swing the runoff’s outcome.

Kukiz won’t cast a vote in the final ballot or back either of the remaining candidates, he said in radio interview on Tuesday. He dismissed Komorowski’s call on Monday for a referendum on whether to introduce U.K.-style single-member constituencies -- a major part of Kukiz’s platform -- as “playing for time and misleading.”

It’s up to supporters to decide for themselves, and he is now looking to challenge the dominant political parties in the fall general election, he said.

“I won’t vote for one or the other,” Kukiz said. “I’m going to war with the system, and I want to bring it down. The better our result, the higher chance we have to do it.”

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