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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
Poland's election rivals
Poland's presidential candidates Donald Tusk (l) and Lech Kaczynski (r)
Donald Tusk (l) & Lech Kaczynski (r)

Poland's presidential hopefuls have been campaigning hard ahead of Sunday's second round. Latest polls suggest Donald Tusk of the Civic Platform and Lech Kaczynski of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) are running neck and neck.

Their parties are in talks on forming a governing coalition following September's parliamentary election. While both are broadly centre-right, the presidential race has opened up divisions. BBC Monitoring profiles both men and looks at what they have been saying.


Outgoing President Aleksander Kwasniewski has urged Poles to back Mr Tusk's more liberal, business-friendly programme, saying it will guard against the growing influence of the far left.

Mr Tusk himself says the centre-right parties should work together regardless of who wins the presidency.

But his Civic Platform is increasingly bitter at the rival Law and Justice Party's portrayal of Mr Tusk as a heartless economic liberal.

In his final week of campaigning, Mr Tusk said voters wanted a president who "knows and understands ordinary people and is an ordinary person himself".

He says that, if elected, he will aim for relations with Russia that are "proud and decisive, but at the same time open and friendly".

Born in Gdansk in 1957
Elected Deputy Senate Speaker in 1997
Elected Civic Platform chairman in 2003

His party wants to press ahead with more economic reforms and says Poland should hold serious business talks with the US.

During the campaign he was forced to admit his late grandfather served briefly in the German Wehrmacht during World War II, but media reports say he emerged from the revelation unscathed.

The Tusk camp has attacked Mr Kaczynski's record as Warsaw mayor and has pledged more jobs and equality of opportunity for Poland's poorer regions.

Mr Tusk styles himself as a "man of principles" and pledges to tackle what he sees as Poland's most pressing problem: corruption.

His interest in politics began after he watched police open fire on protesters in Gdansk in December 1970. He was active in the Solidarity movement during the 1980s.

His Civic Platform came second in the September parliamentary poll.


The Kaczynski camp has focused on Mr Tusk's lack of government experience and suggests he is too soft in dealing with Poland's powerful neighbours, Germany and Russia.

Mr Kaczynski insists Poles need a president who will stand up for their interests. In his campaign, he has reached out to those Poles who he says have not yet benefited from reforms.

At the same time, he has sought to reassure voters he and his party are not against small and medium-sized business.

His camp says post-communist Poland, often called the "Third Republic", needs radical transformation into a "Fourth Republic", based on social justice and a strong state.

Born in Warsaw in 1949
Arrested under martial law in 1981
Elected Warsaw Mayor in 2002

This, he says, is for millions of Polish families "more attractive than the vision of the liberal experiment".

The Law and Justice party, which won most seats in parliament, is led jointly by him and his twin brother Jaroslaw. They established the party in April 2001.

The brothers shot to fame at the age of 12 as stars in the film "Two boys who stole the moon".

Lech followed his brother into the anti-government movement in the late 1970s and served as an adviser to the strike committee at the Gdansk shipyard during the August 1980 Solidarity-led protests.

The brothers found themselves outside mainstream politics in the early 1990s after falling out with the Solidarity leader, by now Polish president, Lech Walesa.

Their party has focused on the traditional values of the Catholic Church. Earlier this year, Lech refused permission for a gay-rights parade in Warsaw.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.

Country profile: Poland
29 Sep 05 |  Country profiles
Analysis: Polish right triumphs
10 Oct 05 |  Europe
Poland election set for run-off
10 Oct 05 |  Europe

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