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Europe

Opinion: Poland voted for Europe by electing Komorowski

With a lean majority at 53 percent of the vote, liberal conservative leader Bronislaw Komorowski is set to become Poland’s next President. DW’s Bartosz Dudek sees Komorowski’s win as a victory for Europe.

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President-elect Bronislaw Komorowski and his liberal conservative party Civic Platform stand for a Europe-friendly and future-oriented Poland. They also value dialogue and compromise in their political dealings.

But defeated presidential candidate Jaroslaw Kaczynski also achieved considerable success in this election. His 47 percent of the vote is a political base upon which his conservative Law and Justice party can build upon in the next parliamentary elections in 2011.

Komorowski's kingmakers were Poland's left-of-center voters. Though rival Jaroslaw Kaczynski made a leftist, populist turn at the end of his campaign, it simply was not enough to win over left-of-center voters. Even Kaczynski's praise of Communist-era social policies could not sway them. Two-thirds of the left-of-center voters marked Komorowski's name on their ballots, making him the country's next president.

The close result of the election also demonstrates to what extent Poland is politically divided. While Komorowski's campaign spoke to younger, educated, urban voters, Kaczynski tended to attract older, less educated and more rural voters. There can also be no talk of true defeat in this election because, as leader of the largest opposition party, the power-hungry Kaczynski will long remain a serious rival to liberal-conservative Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President-elect Bronislaw Komorowski.

Therefore, Kaczynski's success at the polls must be heeded as a warning. The path for Kaczynski's return to power would already be paved, should Warsaw's current coalition government wind up presiding over corruption, rising joblessness, or harsh social policies. If Kaczynski were to return as Poland's prime minister, he could throw Poland back into the domestic and foreign confrontations that once dominated the country's politics.

So Komorowski's election is not only good news not only Poland but also for German-Polish relations and for Europe as a whole. A cheerful, aimiable Polish president with foreign affairs experience and good relations with other European leaders will make Poland a stable pillar of European politics. This bodes well for the polish EU presidency in 2011 and the beleaguered European Union.

Bartosz Dudek is an editor with DW’s Polish department. (dl)

Editor: Chuck Penfold

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