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Europe

Local elections in Poland test government's popularity

Voting stations across Poland opened Sunday for municipal elections in which 48,000 regional leaders were to be elected. The elections are regarded as a political barometer ahead of parliamentary elections in 2011.

A woman casts her ballot

Some 30 million Poles are eligible to vote in the elections

Local elections in Poland have opened across the country, in a key test for the government ahead of parliamentary elections next year.

Around 48,000 mayors, city council members and other officials are being elected in what is seen as a key test for the governing Civic Platform party.

Led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the center-right and pro-business Civic Platform party has governed for three years. It has been criticized for not trimming back the welfare state as promised.

Opinion polls before voting showed the gap had narrowed between Civic Platform and that of right-wing opposition party Law and Justice. The opposition is led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of the late Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash in April.

Sunday's voting is the first round in the election, and in many cases a deciding runoff vote in two weeks will be necessary.

Author: Catherine Bolsover (dpa, AP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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