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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
Analysis: Polish right triumphs
By Adam Easton
BBC correspondent in Warsaw

A man looks at his ballot in a polling station  in Warsaw with the white eagle, Poland's emblem, in the background
Poland has swung to the right, but voter turnout was low
Poland's presidential election has confirmed a swing to the right.

Whoever wins in the second round in two weeks' time, Poland will have a right-wing president and prime minister for the first time in 12 years.

In both the presidential and recent parliamentary elections voters punished the former communists for failing to reduce high unemployment and curb corruption.

With more than 90% of the votes counted, Donald Tusk of the liberal Civic Platform party led with 35.82% and Lech Kaczynski of the conservative Law and Justice Party trailed slightly with 33.29%.

Market reforms

As none of the 12 candidates managed to win 50% of the ballot, a second round run-off between Mr Tusk and Mr Kaczynski will take place on 23 October.

Both men come from parties that have their roots in the Solidarity movement which helped topple communism in Poland in 1989.

And both agree that previous governments were incompetent and corruption is widespread.

But they offer different solutions and Poland is in for two weeks of intense debate.

Donald Tusk
Mr Tusk thinks a liberal approach is the way forward for Poland
Mr Tusk, 48, wants less state interference and more pro-market reform to promote growth and jobs.

A keen football player, the youthful-looking candidate comes from the small ethnic Kashubian community in north-west Poland and he is promising to be a president who will unite people.

"I hope Tusk will win to counterbalance Law and Justice. I support the liberals who will definitely help with small business," Joanna, a language school owner, told me.

"A lot of young people cannot find jobs and if there are some new laws which could help employ people, that would help the economy and make the country grow."

Traditional values

Mr Kaczynski, 56, is promising more radical change. A strident ant-communist, his father fought against the Germans in the World War II resistance.

He wants Poland to become a new Fourth Republic based on Catholic and family values.

Such a republic would represent a symbolic end to post-communist influence in Poland of the Third Republic, which was created when the communists and Solidarity opposition movement negotiated the end of the communist regime in 1989.

Lech Kaczynski with granddaughter Ewa
Mr Kaczynski wants a "Fourth Republic" based on Catholic values
He is in favour of preserving the welfare state, and says Mr Tusk's liberalism will hurt the poor in a country which has the highest unemployment in the European Union.

It is a message that has gone down well among people cut adrift by the free market reforms in many small towns and rural areas in the poorer eastern parts of Poland.

"After the tough changes we went through in the beginning of the 90s, people react allergically to the word 'liberal', so that's why social and Christian values are very important to people," Katarzyna, an assistant to a Polish MEP, told me.

Confusing resemblance

With so little between them after the first round, it looks likely to be a close race in the run-off.

But Ewa Milewicz, a columnist for Gazeta Wyborcza, writes that Mr Kaczynski's message may have more to offer people. "Law and Justice are not angling, it's fishing for the voters with huge nets," she writes.

But Mr Kaczynski's chances may be hurt by his identity problem.

An identical twin, his brother Jaroslaw heads the Law and Justice Party. He refused to become their candidate for prime minister to help Lech get elected.

But it is obvious that Jaroslaw is the main power in the party which won the recent parliamentary elections.

Voters may shy away from handing too much power to twins that many here simply cannot tell apart.


SEE ALSO
Poland's election frontrunners
07 Oct 05 |  Europe
The twins who would lead Poland
16 Jun 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Poland
13 Jun 04 |  Country profiles

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