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Shock result in Polish vote could signal larger power shift

Published:Tuesday | May 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Main opposition candidate Andrzej Duda greets supporters during his election night as first exit polls show he won the first round of the presidential balloting, in Warsaw.
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski waves to supporters after first exit polls indicate he lost the first round of the presidential election to main opposition candidate Andrzej Duda, during the election night in Warsaw, Poland.


It is being called the biggest shock in Polish politics in years. President Bronislaw Komorowski apparently lost the first round of the country's presidential election to a previously unknown 42-year-old member of the European Parliament.

The defeat for the communist-era dissident, who has long polled as one of the nation's most trusted leaders, is a sign that parliamentary elections this fall could be unpredictable. It could even signal a possible return to power for Law and Justice, the right-wing group backing Sunday's winning presidential candidate Andrzej Duda. It favours a more confrontational attitude to the European Union and neighbour Germany than that of the ruling Civic Platform.

A run-off in two weeks will decide the final outcome, but for now exit polls show that Komorowski took just 33 per cent of the votes compared to more than 34 per cent for Duda.

Even if the official outcome varies slightly from the exit poll, the result is undeniably a defeat for Komorowski, a centre-right leader who earlier this year was expected to easily win far above 50 per cent of the vote, avoiding a run off altogether.