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Komorowski leads Kaczynski in Polish presidential race

Early results show interim president and parliament speaker Bronislaw Komorowski has won the most votes in Poland's presidential election but not enough to avoid a run-off in two weeks.

Bronislaw Komorowski greets his supporters after acknowledging exit polls

Results so far, which favor Komorowski, mirror predictions

Polish presidential candidate Bronislaw Komorowski held a slight lead over his rival candidate Jaroslaw Kaczynski in early election results.

Komorowski, from the center-right Civic Platform Party, had gained a 41.22 percent share of the vote with 94.3 percent of papers counted on Monday morning.

Kaczynski had received 36.74 percent of the vote. Under election rules, with neither candidate achieving a 50 percent majority, a run-off vote between the top two candidates will be held in two weeks.

Komorowski urged cheering supporters in Warsaw to focus upon the next round of voting after polls put him ahead on Sunday night.

Presidential candidate Jaroslaw Kaczynski lifts his late brother Lech Kaczynski's grand daughter Eva to cast a vote

Kaczynski faces a difficult task to win in a run-off contest

"Let's be wide awake and mobilize our strength and all our energy for the final stretch," the 58-year-old said.

Call to keep faith

Right-wing Kaczynski, of the Law and Justice party, is the twin brother of former president Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash in Russia on April 10.

The 61-year-old called on his followers to remain hopeful ahead of the next vote, despite signs that he is likely to lose. "The key to victory is faith - the conviction that it is possible and necessary to win. We must win for our homeland, for Poland," he said.

Center-left Social Democrat Grzegorz Napieralski gained a surprise 13.7 percent of the vote. Polls showed that two-thirds of his supporters would back Komorowski.

The early results mirror predictions by election observers coming into the election. Figures put voter turnout at around 55 percent.

Komorowski has said that his term in office would be marked by a pro-European, reformist approach. Following persistant quarrels within government over internal and foreign policy, Komorowski has promised stability. He said there would be no friction with Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who represents the same party.

Polish soldiers carry a coffin of late Polish President Lech Kaczynski

Jaroslaw Kaczynski says his brother's death has changed him

The nationalist government of Kaczynski was voted out of power in 2007, following a controversial two years. Many said that Poland had become a semi-autocratic state that constantly picked fights with its closest neighbours Russia and Germany. But Kaczynski now claims his brother’s death has changed his life, including his loutlook on politics.

More of the same?

Retired Warsaw University sociologist Jadwiga Staniszkis, a keen supporter of Kaczynski told Deutsche Welle that the right-wing politician would put Poland first.

"Kaczynski is a man who is passionate about his views," said Staniszkis. "He is a patriot who is not afraid to fight for Poland’s strong position in Europe. He also holds a strong belief that the concept of 'Solidarity', which was born in Poland under communism, should now be broadened to include solidarity with those left behind by market reforms."

On the other side of the political spectrum is Tadeusz Czachorski from the University of Silesia. He said that, far from being progressive, Kaczynski remained deeply conservative.

"I don't see any changes of his behaviour, just some words assuring us he was changed but in fact his language is the same as previously," said Czachorski. "I really remember his behaviour as a politician; how he was closed against any changes and any European trends and Europe."

A second round head-to head contest, with eight other candidates including Napieralski eliminated, is set to take place on July 4.

Author: Richard Connor (ap, AFP, dpa)
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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