Komorowski officially declared winner in Polish presidential election

By Vanessa Gera, AP
Monday, July 5, 2010

Komorowski declared winner in Polish election

WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s state electoral commission officially declared Bronislaw Komorowski the country’s new president.

The commission said Monday that Komorowski won 53.01 percent of the vote, beating out his rival Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who won 46.99 percent, after all ballots were counted,

The early voting was forced by a plane crash in April that killed President Lech Kaczynski, Jaroslaw’s identical twin brother.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Bronislaw Komorowski’s all-but-certain victory offered Poland’s pro-business governing party an opportunity but also a challenge Monday as it prepared to govern without the obstacle of a hostile president.

With parliamentary elections scheduled for late 2011, the Civic Platform party of Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk has a year to show the country whether it can tackle major economic problems including high debt and unemployment.

“Civic Platform! You now have total power,” the tabloid Fakt declared in big letters on its front page Monday. “Show what you can do — you have a year!”

With 95 percent of the votes counted from Sunday’s balloting, Komorowski had what appeared to be an unassailable lead of 52.63 percent, compared with 47.37 percent for his rival, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Full results were expected Monday afternoon.

Komorowski and his ruling Civic Platform party were withholding any declarations of victory until the final results were announced. Kaczynski, however, conceded defeat Sunday night.

Komorowski has pledged to work with the government closely to support its program of modernizing Poland and trimming back the welfare state. Any painful changes could hurt Tusk in next year’s elections. Among reforms the government wants is a raise in the retirement age. Currently women can retire at 60 and men at 65.

The election was held months ahead of schedule after President Lech Kaczynski was killed in a plane crash in western Russia in April. His identical twin brother Jaroslaw, a relatively unpopular politician just months ago, made a run for the seat and won significant support toward the end after shedding his once-combative image and benefiting from a surge of sympathy over the loss of his brother.

Memories of a chaotic government Jaroslaw Kaczynski led from 2006-2007 probably helped keep him from victory, but his strong showing has boosted his followers’ hopes that he might strengthen his power in future elections.

Komorowski’s victory will be welcome news for leaders in Berlin and Brussels. Jaroslaw Kaczynski is a noted nationalist and euroskeptic reluctant to adopt the euro or to cede much sovereignty to the EU. When he was prime minister, his government was often at loggerheads with officials in Brussels.

Both Kaczynski twins were also suspicious of Germany, and frequently made a political issue of the suffering that Germany inflicted on Poland during World War II.

Germany’s foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, welcomed Komorowski’s election as “a strong pro-European signal.” He said that, in Komorowski, Berlin would have “a strong partner for (its) course of trust and cooperation.”

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