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Poland election: Center-right Bronislaw Komorowski edges out Jaroslaw Kaczynski

Acting president Bronislaw Komorowski edged out Jaroslaw Kaczynski, opposition leader and twin brother of the late President Lech Kaczynski, with just over 52 percent of the vote in Sunday's Poland election.

By Jaroslaw AdamowskiCorrespondent / July 5, 2010

Polish acting president Bronislaw Komorowski waves after winning the presidential election. He defeated Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of the Polish president killed in a Russian plane crash.




Nearly three months after the tragic April 10 plane crash in Smolensk, western Russia, which killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski, Polish voters elected the country’s new president on Sunday.

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After the first round of the Poland election on June 20 failed to produce a majority winner, Speaker of Parliament Bronislaw Komorowski from the ruling center-right Civic Platform (PO) edged out Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the president’s twin brother and leader of the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, in Sunday's runoff election.

Mr. Kaczynski conceded defeat Sunday night after 95 percent of the votes were counted, showing that Mr. Komorowski had an unassailable lead with 52.63 percent, compared with Kaczynski's 47.37 percent.

Komorowski's win means both the executive and legislative branches of Poland's government will be united under the pro-business Civic Platform party, but Kaczynski's rise in the polls throughout the race means that the right-wing PiS will be invigorated for a strong challenge during parliamentary elections in just over a year.

For now, though, Komorowski wanted the nation to focus on the fact that it is emerging pretty well united after a very difficult period following the April plane crash that killed its president and dozens of other high-ranking officials.

"We have a reason for satisfaction, because Polish democracy has won,” Komorowski told his supporters after the announcement of preliminary results. "We’ve managed to persevere through difficult moments, and now ... we have to carry out a tremendous effort so that divisions don’t hinder us from working together.”

Wooing the left in a tight race

During the campaign, both contenders sought support from undecided and left-wing voters. Kaczynski endorsed Grzegorz Napieralski, the leader of the center-left Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), who came in third in the first round with a surprising 13.7 percent of the vote.

"Grzegorz Napieralski adopted an active campaign strategy before the first round, and he traveled through the whole country,” says Joanna Zaluska of the Stefan Batory Foundation, a think tank in Warsaw. "In the second round, both candidates have followed the same strategy and accelerated their campaigns. They also encouraged voters to participate in the election, and this had a positive effect on the attendance.”

In attempt to woo left-wing voters, Komorowski, assuming his responsibilities as acting president, appointed Marek Belka, a former prime minister in a left-wing cabinet, as the new governor of Poland’s central bank. Kaczynski, formerly known for his tough anticommunist rhetoric, went as far as to call one Polish Communist party leader from the Soviet era "a communist, but also a patriot.”