July 2, 2010 / 8:26 AM / 9 years ago

Surveys signal close Polish presidential run-off

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s presidential race between business-friendly Bronislaw Komorowski and conservative Jaroslaw Kaczynski is too close to call ahead of the final round of voting this Sunday, surveys showed on Friday.

Supporters show the victory sign as they take part in an election rally of Law and Justice (PiS) presidential candidate Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Wroclaw, southwestern Poland June 29, 2010. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Komorowski, candidate of the ruling centrist Civic Platform (PO) who has so far been seen as the frontrunner, is now expected to face a tight run-off against Kaczynski, leader of the right-wing main opposition Law and Justice (PiS).

Investors would prefer a Komorowski win, expecting him to work smoothly with the market-oriented government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk in curbing Poland’s budget deficit and public debt. Komorowski also wants Poland to adopt the euro.

Victory for Kaczynski, who opposes cutting state spending and privatization and is skeptical on the euro, would be likely to hit the zloty and bonds, economists say. In Poland, the government sets policies but the president can propose and veto laws.

The Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper quoted on Friday some analysts as saying the two rivals may win half the vote each in the second, decisive round of voting, while others predicted Komorowski would win by between three and six percentage points.

The Rzeczpospolita daily published a survey late on Thursday showing Kaczynski and Komorowski each had the definite backing of 45 percent of Poles.

The paper said the GfK pollster, which conducted the telephone poll of 1,000 people on July 1, believed more of the 10 percent of undecided voters were likely to back Kaczynski, giving him a lead of 2 percentage points over Komorowski.

MISLEADING FORECASTS

The Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily, which released on Friday a Homo Homini telephone survey conducted among 1,203 Poles, gave Komorowski a lead of 12 percentage points over Kaczynski.

A late Friday poll by SMG/KRC for TVN news channel also had Komorowski ahead, though by a smaller 7 percentage point margin.

Opinion polls in Poland are often criticized for giving misleading forecasts and they have tended to underestimate support for Kaczynski.

Komorowski secured a lead of just 5 points, less than forecast, over Kaczynski in the first round in June.

Touring rural Poland, his main power base, Kaczynski warned on Friday against allowing PO, which dominates parliament, to capture the presidency too.

“Support for my candidacy means there will be no monopoly of power. Monopolies are dangerous,” Kaczynski told a rally.

The election was brought forward by the death of the former president, Kaczynski’s identical twin brother Lech, in a plane crash in Russia on April 10.

Economists caution against expectations of a sharp rise in the tempo of reforms even if Komorowski wins on Sunday, noting that the Tusk government also faces parliamentary polls next year. But they say a Kaczynski triumph would be negative for financial markets.

“Kaczynski could keep up pressure on the government to loosen fiscal discipline,” said one dealer, adding that bond yields could rise by up to 5 basis points on Monday if he wins.

Echoing such concerns, Rafal Benecki, senior economist at ING Bank in Warsaw, said: “The result of the election can have some impact on the Polish debt market ... Also the short-term impact of a Kaczynski victory would be a rather weaker zloty...”

“I will vote for Bronislaw Komorowski because the current governing coalition will then have full force and ability to pursue reforms, and accountability will be more transparent.”

(Additional reporting by Filip Kochan and Kuba Jaworowski)

Writing by Gabriela Baczynska and Gareth Jones; editing by Philippa Fletcher/David Stamp

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