Komorowskis presidential setback spells trouble for the Polish gov’t

By Michel Mrozinski, AFP

WARSAW–Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski’s shock setback in the first round of the presidential election spells serious trouble for the governing liberals just months ahead of the parliamentary polls.

The 62-year-old incumbent conceded defeat late Sunday to Andrzej Duda �X a 42-year-old lawyer backed by the Law and Justice (PiS) conservative opposition party �X whom he will face in the May 24 run-off vote. Official results painted a grim picture for Komorowski, who had been the frontrunner in pre-election opinion polls and is close to the centrist Civic Platform (PO) that has governed central Europe’s largest economy since 2007.

Duda scored 34.76 percent against Komorowski’s 33.77 percent, with rock star and political novice Pawel Kukiz trailing at 20.80 percent, according to final results from the election commission.

��Yellow card for PO,�� said political analyst Stanislaw Mocek. ��The people don’t want a team at the helm that is content with running the country, handling day-to-day affairs without introducing any real reform.��

Komorowski, a historian who took office in 2010 after the death of his PiS predecessor in a plane crash, himself dubbed the first-round outcome as ��a serious warning for the entire governing camp.��

The president has limited powers, which include steering defence and foreign policy and the right to veto legislation in the EU member of 38 million people. Komorowski on Monday took up the main concerns of Kukiz, the anti-establishment rocker who proved popular with young voters, and announced two initiatives regarding parliamentary polls: a referendum on introducing a single-member district election system and scrapping state financing of political parties. Duda �X whose PiS party is led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a former premier and twin brother of the late president Lech Kaczynski �X also sought to appeal to youths but with a more hands-on approach.