Poles start to vote in presidential elections

13:19, June 20, 2010      

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The presidential elections of Poland kicked off Sunday with a runoff likely on July 4.

Voting, which started at 6 a.m. (0400 GMT), will conclude at 8 p.m.(1800 GMT), with more than 30 million voters expected to cast votes in 25,774 polling stations nationwide. Exit poll results were expected upon the closing of the stations.

There are 10 candidates on the ballot, including acting President and Sejm (the lower chamber of the Parliament) Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the former prime minister and leader of the conservative Law and Justice Party.

Komorowski, candidate of the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party, took over presidential duties after the death of President Lech Kaczynski in an air crash on April 10 near Smolensk, Russia.

Elections were originally to have been held this October. However, Komorowski decided to call for an early election.

A second round of elections will be held July 4 if needed, according to a decree signed by Komorowski.

Opinion polls published recently gave Komorowski a comfortable lead over his main rival, Kaczynski. Analysts said, however, that no one would secure an outright victory by garnering over 50 percent of the vote, and that Komorowski and Kaczynski would likely compete in a runoff.

According to the latest public opinion polls, Komorowski could get as much as 46 percent of the vote, while Kaczynski could receive between 31 percent and 36 percent. Turnout was seen at about 50 percent.

Komorowski is regarded as a centre-right candidate eager to push for political unity and a greater Polish presence in the European Union.

Born on June 4, 1952, Komorowski graduated from the University of Warsaw in 1977 with a history degree.

He is currently vice chairman of the Civic Platform party and has been parliament speaker since November 2007.

The business-friendly, pro-EU party chose Komorowski as its presidential candidate in March, weeks before the plane crash in Smolensk.

Komorowski was defense minister from 2000 to 20001 and vice marshal of the parliament's lower house from 2005 to 2007.

Kaczynski, twin brother of the late president Lech Kaczynski, was born on June 18, 1949. As a child, Kaczynski starred along with his brother in the 1962 film "The Two Who Stole the Moon." He obtained a doctorate in law from the University of Warsaw in 1976.

Throughout the 1980s, Kaczynski was active in the Solidarity labor union. He served in parliament from 1991-93.

Kaczynski co-founded the socially conservative Law and Justice party in 2001, and the party won the 2005 parliamentary elections under his leadership.

Kaczynski was prime minister from July 2006 to November 2007, when he gained a reputation for fighting corruption and bureaucracy.

He is known for his nationalistic stance, putting up a frosty front both to the European Union and to Russia.

Source: Xinhua


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