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Poland: shock as presidential poll goes to runoff

Poland's presidential elections will go to a second round after newcomer Andrzej Duda edged out incumbent Bronislaw Komorowski. The unexpected result has shocked political commentators.

Conservative challenger Duda won 34.76 percent of the votes from Sunday's presidential elections, putting Komorowski in second place on 33.77 percent, according to the state electoral commission.

As neither candidate polled more than 50 percent, the two will face each other in a run-off on May 24, which will decide the final outcome.

The result is surprising as center-right leader Komorowski (above, with his wife) had been expected to clear this hurdle, winning another term and avoiding a run-off. He has held the top job since 2010, following the death of his predecessor in a plane crash.

Polen Wahl 2015 Stimmabgabe Duda

Andrzej Duda

Commentator Pawel Wronski has described the result as "the biggest surprise in Polish politics in recent years."

Komorowski's business-friendly Civic Platform party, founded by former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, has been in power since 2007. But analysts say the president has suffered for not opposing some of the party's more unpopular proposals, like raising the retirement age.

The defeat is a blow to Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, who will run against Duda's Law and Justice Party in parliamentary elections later in the year.

Duda is a 42-year-old lawyer backed by the Law and Justice (PiS) conservative opposition party. The poll also pointed to a strong showing for Pawl Kukiz, a former punk rock musician, who received 20.8 percent of the vote with an anti-establishment message.

Presidents in Poland have limited powers, including steering defence and foreign policy, and they hold the right to veto legislation.

jr/bw (AP, Reuters)

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