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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.

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New life for Kaczynski

Despite his electoral defeat, the Sunday vote is not necessarily a cul-de-sac for Kaczynski, analysts say.

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The recent rise in popularity of his Law and Justice party could very well pave the way for its victory in the parliamentary elections slated for fall 2011. Now that both the government and the president are from the ruling Civic Platform, Kaczynski’s party, which was ousted from power in 2007, is expected to become rock-solid opposition before next year's vote.

Challenges and ambitions

The year 2011 will play a key role in Poland’s future, as the country will take over the European Union’s presidency in the second half of the year. But Warsaw’s ambitions of emerging as a regional power are perhaps best visible in its continuous diplomatic initiatives.

On Saturday, United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton came to Poland to participate in a Community of Democracies summit in Krakow. The intergovernmental organization, assembling 16 democratic member states, celebrated its 10th anniversary since being established by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Poland’s then-Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek.

The summit’s date was set prior to the April 10 plane crash, which accelerated Poland’s presidential election. During her visit in Krakow, Mrs. Clinton steered away from explicit declarations in favor of any of the candidates.

"This weekend, Poland is set to renew its democracy by holding the runoff to the presidential election,” Mrs. Clinton said on Saturday, as quoted by the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. "No matter which candidate wins the vote, the United States will remain Poland’s friend and close ally.”

Poland’s relations with Russia, Poland’s communist-era master, have improved since the plane crash, but the recent deployment of US MIM-104 Patriot missiles to the Morag military base in northern Poland,was met with suspicion by Moscow. Komorowski is expected to endorse the Polish government’s attempts to break the ice.

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