Liberal Wins Polish Presidency

Bronisław Komorowski fends off a challenge from the right to claim the presidency for the Civic Platform.

Acting president Bronisław Komorowski of Poland fended off a stiff electoral challenge from the right on Sunday, winning just over half the votes in the country’s second president election round.

Komorowski was speaker of the Polish parliament until April when the last president died in a plane crash that killed much of the country’s political and military leadership. The former president’s twin brother, Jarosław Kaczyński, stood for the presidency for the conservative Law and Justice party which has been in government in alternating coalitions several times in recent years.

The conservative party, which was formed out of an array of smaller right-wing parties in 2001 by the Kaczyński brothers, is renowned for its strong positions on crime and defense, its opposition to abortion and gay marriage and has proposed a more powerful executive to allow the president to enact law by decree.

Komorowski’s Civic Platform is more moderate by comparison although it shares a social conservatism with its contender. It favors a flat tax, privatization and decentralization.

Where Law and Justice polled strong in the countryside, particularly in the east of Poland, the liberals find much of their base among the urban middle class and students.

Komorowski’s win is the latest of a series of victories for pro-market parties across Central and Eastern Europe. As in Poland, it were largely urban voters who voted liberals into office in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic last month.

With a party member as president, Prime Minister Donald Tusk will be able to govern without the constant threat of a presidential veto. His cabinet intends to cut government spending in line with the rest of the eurozone and aims to privatize companies still owned by the state.