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article imagePoland goes to the polls in presidential election

By Gemma Fox     Jun 20, 2010 in Politics
Across Poland voting stations opened at 0600 CET this morning as the first round of polling begins in the Polish Presidential elections. Ten candidates stand in the vote which will choose a President to replace the late Lech Kaczynski.
Two months after the devastating plane crash in Smolensk, western Russia which killed President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, Poland begins the task of replacing him.
Among the ten candidates for President are Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of the now deceased Lech Kaczynski and former conservative Prime Minister of the country who was voted out three years ago. Since his brothers death he has seen his popularity rise and is, some reports say, a changed politician who is more welcome to compromise now.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski placed his vote in the capital Warsaw earlier today accompanied by his niece Marta, daughter of Lech and her two daughters.
Another candidate is the current acting President Bronislaw Komorowski, member of the ruling Civic Platform party. The front-runner in the race for President, voted in Warsaw earlier accompanied by his wife Anna. He hailed the election as a "festival of democracy".
The eight other candidates are, Marek Jurek, Janusz Korwin Mikke, Andrzej Lepper, Kornel Morawiecki, Grzegorz Napieralski, Andrzej Olechowski, Waldemar Pawlek and Boguslaw Zietek. All are said to have voted.
The National Election Commission said at 1300 (CET) that the city with the highest turnout was the Polish capital Warsaw with turnout at 29.42 per cent. The overall turnout at the moment looks to be about 23.38 percent. In Reval, a seaside town in north Poland, voters have been turning out in their droves with 56.2 percent of voters already casting their vote.
Out of Poland's 38 million population around 30 million have registered to vote. The head of the National Election Commission said that so far there was no apparent need to extend voting beyond the scheduled timed for closing at 2000 (CET) as all polling stations bar one had opened on time this morning.
The one polling station that didn't open at 0600 (CET) was in Radom when an election worker forgot the official stamp but the delay was only ten minutes and since then things have progressed well.
Senate by-elections are also being held in the constituencies of Katowice, Płocko-Ciechanow and Krosno as they lost Senators Krystyna Bochenek, Stanislaw Zajac and Janina Fetlińska in the devastating plane crash on April 10 this year.
After the death of Lech Kaczynski on April 10, the role of President was temporarily handed to the Parliamentary Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski and the presidential elections brought forward from October to today June 20.
In order to run for President each of the ten candidates had to secure 100,000 signatures showing support for their candidacy to be allowed to formally stand in the election.
Today is only the first round of elections. If no candidate receives an over-all majority today (more than half of valid ballots) then the top two go through to another round of elections that will take place on July 4.
Although this Presidential race has been described as less aggressive than others because of the circumstances that brought it forward, it has also been overshadowed by severe floods in Poland which have caused the deaths of 24 people. Voting in flood hit areas did proceed as normal.
Today's Presidential elections are the fifth to have taken place since Poland gained its freedom in 1989.
More about Poland, President, Lech kaczynski, Jaroslaw kaczynski, Smolensk
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