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Poland president vote on June 20, Komorowski leads
WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland will hold a presidential election on June 20 following the death of Lech Kaczynski and opinion polls show acting President Bronislaw Komorowski will win it comfortably.
Komorowski automatically took the helm on Kaczynski's death in his capacity as speaker of parliament, number two in the state hierarchy. He is also the presidential candidate of Prime Minister Donald Tusk's ruling Civic Platform (PO).
"Today at 5:40 a.m. (11:40 p.m. EDT Tuesday) speaker Komorowski signed all the documents, hence setting the date of the election for June 20," Komorowski's spokesman, Jerzy Smolinski, told Reuters.
Kaczynski, his wife Maria and 94 other, mostly senior, military and political officials were killed in a plane crash in Russia on April 10.
A slew of opinion polls this week have shown the gently spoken, mustachioed Komorowski, 57, will trounce his rivals for the presidency, a mainly ceremonial post which includes key veto powers over legislation and a say in foreign policy.
Kaczynski's twin brother Jaroslaw, 60, a former prime minister who heads the main opposition Law and Justice party (PiS), is expected to decide by Saturday whether to run. Analysts believe he would struggle to translate an upsurge of sympathy for his family after the crash into enough votes.
KOMOROWSKI LEADS OPINION POLLS
A TNS OBOP poll, conducted on April 19 among 1,000 respondents, gave Komorowski 55 percent of support against 32 percent for Jaroslaw Kaczynski, if the latter decided to run.
The survey, published by the daily Fakt, also showed Komorowski handsomely defeating other potential candidates of PiS, as well as the small leftist opposition party SLD whose candidate was among the 96 victims of the plane crash.
The Super Express tabloid published a Homo Homini poll showing Komorowski would win 39.3 percent against 18.2 percent for Kaczynski.
If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of votes on June 20, a second round of the election will be held on July 4.
Tusk's junior coalition partner, the Peasants' Party, named Deputy Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak on Wednesday as its presidential candidate, a party source said.
Komorowski is a close ally of Prime Minister Tusk whose centrist PO backs market reforms such as privatization, better ties with Russia and Poland's early membership of the euro.
The late Kaczynski irked the Tusk government by vetoing its pension, health and media bills. But Komorowski, as president, could be expected to work much more smoothly with the cabinet.
"Komorowski still holds a very strong position. It seems for now that the sympathy and compassion felt for the First Couple do not automatically translate into support for PiS," said Jacek Kucharczyk, head of the Institute For Public Affairs.
Lech Kaczynski, a combative nationalist, had been widely expected to seek a fresh five-year term in the election, originally due this autumn. He had been lagging well behind Komorowski in the opinion polls, on around 20 percent.
Before the crash, the polls showed Jaroslaw Kaczynski was the most distrusted politician in Poland. His party PiS, which espouses populist economic policies and favors a tough line toward Russia and the European Union, lags PO in the polls.
Poland elects a new parliament next year.
"It looks like Komorowski is close to winning in the first round, though something may change if Jaroslaw Kaczynski officially announces his candidacy," Kucharczyk said.
Political parties must gather 100,000 signatures to register their candidates by May 6. The tight deadline puts smaller parties under pressure and two candidates have already withdrawn from the presidential race.
(Editing by Gareth Jones and Robert Woodward)
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