Poland's Komorowski, Kaczynski Face Runoff for Presidency, Exit Polls Show
Bronislaw Komorowski probably fell short of a majority in Poland’s presidential elections, setting up a runoff with Jaroslaw Kaczynski that may determine how quickly the country pursues euro adoption and deficit reduction, exit polls and early returns show.
Komorowski, the acting president and candidate of Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform, got 45.7 percent of the vote, and Kaczynski 33.2 percent, a MillwardBrown SMG/KRC exit poll for TVN television showed. Early results based on returns from 15 percent of voting districts showed a closer race, with Komorowski at 39.7 percent and Kaczynski at 37.7 percent.
A Komorowski victory in the July 4 runoff would give Civic Platform control of the presidency and cabinet, ending divisions that arose under the late President Lech Kaczynski, Jaroslaw’s twin, who died in an April 10 plane crash. Komorowski backs a timetable for euro membership and spending limits. Kaczynski opposes a euro deadline and has called for increased spending.
“We’ve got two weeks of suspense ahead of us, but Komorowski should win a runoff because he’s more capable of picking up voters who supported other candidates,” said Anna Materska-Sosnowska, a political scientist at Warsaw University.
The Election Commission plans to release final results by tonight.
Grzegorz Napieralski, chairman of the Democratic Left Alliance, is in third place, with 13.9 percent of the vote, according to the early returns.
Komorowski will probably attract more votes from the Left Democrats than Kaczynski, said Beata Laciak, a sociology professor at Warsaw University. 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.
“Napieralski holds the keys to the vault and he’ll be wooed intensively,” Laciak, who studies voter attitudes, said by telephone late yesterday.
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.
Komorowski, 58, said last week that Poland needs to establish a timeline for adopting the euro to ensure responsible economic policies.
“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.
“If we get Kaczynski, things will look a lot more uncertain,” Nigel Rendell, senior emerging market strategist at RBC Capital in London, before the first results were announced. “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.