Polish presidential election to be decided by a runoff

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WARSAW | A somber election season in Poland was prolonged by two weeks Sunday when a first round of voting produced no immediate successor to Lech Kaczynski, the president killed more than two months ago in a plane crash.

Results show the interim president and parliament speaker, Bronislaw Komorowski, is leading Mr. Kaczynski’s identical twin, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. But Mr. Komorowski appeared to fall short of the 50 percent needed for outright victory.

The two leaders must now go head-to-head in a runoff vote July 4, without eight other candidates who ran Sunday.

Mr. Kaczynski, 61, addressing supporters Sunday evening, made a rare reference to the plane crash that killed his brother, noting that the campaign has been anything but normal. He said “it’s an election which is the result of a huge catastrophe, a huge misfortune, a huge tragedy.”

An exit poll by Millward Brown SMG/KRC showed Mr. Komorowski with 45.7 percent of the vote and Mr. Kaczynski with 33.2 percent. A second poll, by OBOP, showed 41.2 percent for Mr. Komorowski and 35.8 percent for Mr. Kaczynski.

But as partial official results were reported several hours later, it appeared that Mr. Komorowski’s lead was narrower than it originally seemed. Based on 71 percent of voting stations reporting, Mr. Komorowski had 40.1 percent of the votes and Kaczynski had 37.4 percent, the State Electoral Commission said.

Full official results are expected later Monday.

Mr. Komorowski, 58, told his supporters at a campaign night party in Warsaw that he felt “happy and fulfilled” knowing he has the “support and the trust of millions of voters in Poland.”

“In life as in football, overtime is the most difficult. Let’s not forget that and let’s mobilize all our forces for the grand finale on July 4,” he said.

The left-wing candidate, Grzegorz Napieralski, was in third place, and the final outcome will hinge to a large degree on where his votes go. Partial official results showed that Mr. Napieralski got nearly 14 percent support.

Mr. Komorowski and Mr. Kaczynski are both former anti-communist activists, but they will both be scrambling in coming days to win over supporters of Mr. Napieralski’s Democratic Left Alliance, heir to the once all-powerful Communist Party.

Mr. Napieralski said he will travel and meet with his supporters before deciding whom to endorse.

Sociologist Ireneusz Krzeminski said it is hard to imagine that the majority of Mr. Napieralski’s voters could vote for anyone other than Mr. Komorowski. The former Communist Party tends to be liberal on social issues such as gay rights and opposes the strong role played by the church in society. That puts it closer to Mr. Komorowski’s Civic Platform, which appeals to secular and urban voters with its pro-business ethos and pays little attention to social issues.

A Millward Brown SMG/KRC poll for the all-news station TVN24 predicted that 66.5 percent of Mr. Napieralski’s supporters will choose Mr. Komorowski in two weeks, and 29.6 percent will side with Mr. Kaczynski.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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