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Poles go to the Polls

KRAKOW TOURS – Polish polling stations have opened for a snap presidential election forced by the death of conservative president Lech Kaczynski in a plane crash in April.

Among the candidates are the late president’s identical twin as well as the interim president Bronislaw Komorowski, who is ahead in the polls.

Candidate Jaroslaw Kaczynski said he wanted to run for the presidency to safeguard his brother’s legacy after he died in the plane crash in Russia which also killed 95 others including many high-ranking politicians.

But despite his association with the popular former president, reaffirmed by a visit to his tomb on their joint 61st birthday on Friday, surveys have still given his rival Komorowski a five to 18 point lead.

Kaczynski has managed to close the gap with Komorowski in recent weeks, putting both rivals way ahead of the eight other candidates, and threatening the chance of Komorowski securing the 50% majority he needs for a first round victory.

If neither candidate wins the first round vote, a run-off ballot is scheduled for July 4.

Although the election has been branded the strangest in Poland’ post-Communist history, it will define the country’s relations with Europe and Russia.

Kaczynski, a former prime minister, is a Eurosceptic who is known for being deeply conservative and nationalistic while his rival is more liberal. However, some have said that the former president’s death has cast a shadow over the election, causing candidates to tone down their rhetoric.

The late president Lech Kaczynski was expected to have bid for a second term in a race against Komorowski. Kaczynski and his wife Maria were on a presidential jet that crashed in Smolensk, western Russia, on April 10. They were en route to ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of a Soviet WWII massacre of Polish officers in the nearby Katyn forest.

June 20, 2010 - Posted by | News | , , , , ,

2 Comments »

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