Poles chose mayors for over 640 cities, towns in runoff vote

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Poles chose mayors for over 640 cities, towns in runoff vote
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, center right, welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center left, ahead of intergovernmental consultations at the Belvedere Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Friday Nov. 2, 2018. Merkel is visiting Warsaw amid calls by Polish officials that Germany pay Poland billions of dollars for damage inflicted by the Nazis during World War II. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poles are voting in local runoff elections to choose the mayors of several key cities, including Krakow and Gdansk, and more than 640 other towns and smaller localities.

A first round on Oct. 21 saw the ruling populist Law and Justice party strengthen its showing in regional assemblies but lose mayoral races outright in Warsaw, Poznan and Lodz to a centrist pro-European Union coalition led by the Civic Platform party.

The results so far highlight the deep divisions between Poland’s cities, which have many liberal voters, and a rural heartland largely supportive of the conservative ruling party despite its conflicts with the EU and accusations that it is taking an authoritarian direction.

The centrist opposition is favored to win in Krakow and Gdansk in Sunday’s voting, which is taking place in 649 municipalities.