Polish election heads for run-off

Polish opposition that won last month's parliamentary election face further delays in forming a joint cabinet after yesterday's presidential contest failed to produce a clear winner, exit polls showed.

Neither of the two top vote-getters, Citizens' Platform Chairman Donald Tusk and Law & Justice's Lech Kaczynski, won the 50 percent minimum needed to take the post, an exit poll by GfK Polonia for private television station TVN24 showed. Tusk, who won 38.7 percent of the vote, and Kaczynski, with 33.2 percent, will vie in an Oct. 23 runoff after beating 10 other candidates yesterday.

The two candidates' parties, which suspended talks on forming a coalition government over disagreements on economic policy, said earlier that they plan to return to negotiations once the country picks a president.

"The cabinet is not likely to be formed within the next two weeks," Citizens' Platform Deputy Chairman Jan Rokita said in an interview in Warsaw after exit polls were published last night. "The fate of the new cabinet will depend on both parties' readiness for a compromise, not on the presidential rivalry. I'm much more worried about the differences between our programs."

Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, a Platform deputy who is participating in the coalition talks, told reporters yesterday that Law & Justice may want to rule alone.

The State Election Committee plans to announce the final tally by this evening, reports Bloomberg.

The race in the formerly communist country centered on the Europe-wide issue of just how far to go in sacrificing welfare state protections for the promise of an American-style economy with fewer social benefits but faster growth and job creation.

Tusk wants a 15-percent flat tax rate on personal and corporate earnings, while Kaczynski favors a greater role for the state in protecting the social safety net and promoting Roman Catholic values. He wants tax cuts, but would keep the system under which high earners pay more — and would give deductions for big families.

The election of either candidate would cement the sharp decline of the ruling former communists, who were defeated in parliamentary elections on Sept. 25 following a string of sleaze scandals and failure to slash Poland's jobless rate, now at 17.8 percent, the highest in the European Union, informs CBS.


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