WARSAW, Poland — Exit polls in Poland’s presidential election Sunday show that the interim president and parliament speaker Bronislaw Komorowski is leading Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the brother of the president killed in a plane crash in April, but without the 50 per cent needed for outright victory.
If the exit polls are confirmed by official results, a runoff vote will have to be held between Komorowski and Kaczynski on July 4.
An exit poll by Millward Brown SMG/KRC showed Komorowski with 45.7 per cent of the vote and Kaczynski with 33.2 per cent.
A second poll, by OBOP, showed 40.7 per cent for Komorowski and 35.8 per cent for Kaczynski.
Official results are expected Monday.
Komorowski 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.
Both exit polls gave third place to the centre-left candidate, Grzegorz Napieralski, with either 13.4 or 14 per cent of the vote. Seven other candidates were in the running but got only around 2 per cent or less of the votes.
The president is elected for a five-year term separately from the prime minister and his government. Although many of the duties are symbolic, the president can veto laws and, as commander in chief, has influence over foreign military missions.
President Lech Kaczynski and his wife were among 96 people killed when their plane crashed while trying to land in heavy fog in Smolensk, Russia, on April 10. The delegation included many high-ranking civilian and military leaders, and their loss provoked deep grief across the nation. Many called it the worst tragedy to strike Poland since World War II.
Komorowski is a pro-European Union, moderate member of the governing Civic Platform party. He has pledged to work closely with the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk to adopt the euro in about five years, end the unpopular military mission in Afghanistan and promote pro-market reforms.
Kaczynski is a social conservative, whose main goals are to fight crime and corruption, scale back market reforms to preserve a strong welfare state and promote Roman Catholic values.
He is more skeptical about the European Union and adoption of the euro, saying it’s too early to set a timetable for giving up the Polish currency, the zloty.
Kaczynski is known for his nationalism and his combative tone, but he has struck a more moderate tone since his brother’s death. Many Poles are unsure of whether the change is permanent or a campaign strategy to win over middle-of-the-road voters.