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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kaczynski Wins Runoff Election

WARSAW -- Tough-talking Warsaw Mayor Lech Kaczynski of the socially conservative Law and Justice Party came from behind to win Poland's presidential runoff, propelled to victory with the support of the nation's poorer voters and farmers.

Kaczynski won with 54 percent of Sunday's vote, compared to 46 percent for opponent Donald Tusk, of the pro-market Civic Platform party, the State Election Commission said Monday after 100 percent of the votes were counted.

Kaczynski's victory opened the way for full-fledged talks between Law and Justice and Civic Platform, which won a combined conservative majority in parliamentary elections Sept. 25. The party began formal coalition talks Monday.

The rivalry between the two parties' presidential candidates had slowed down coalition talks in past weeks, but leaders Monday stressed that the clarity achieved with the presidential race over would allow them to press ahead now.

"I am determined to form this coalition," Prime Minister-designate Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz told reporters in Warsaw at the start of talks. "Poland and Poles expect that."

While Civic Platform echoed the optimism, it also signaled that it expected to see some of its free-market policies reflected in the government's program, despite its defeat. The two parties differ on economics, with Law and Justice favoring social welfare spending that could make it hard to balance the budget.

Civic Platform wants to cut spending and the budget deficits to speed up Poland's adoption of the euro. Law and Justice wants to join, but only after a referendum in 2010.

"We expect a meaningful participation of Platform in the government and we expect far-reaching concessions," said Jan Rokita, the Civic Platform leader billed to be deputy prime minister. "This is the logic of the situation."

The talks could be difficult, as Law and Justice was expected to toughen its position after consolidating power with control of the presidency.

The 56-year-old Kaczynski was quoted in Monday's issue of the Rzeczpospolita daily that he plans to quit as Warsaw mayor after the city's 2006 budget is drafted, but he gave no date. He is to be inaugurated Dec. 23.

Kaczynski's promises to stand up to Germany -- even though the two countries enjoy good relations --- appeared aimed at older voters who remember the war. His promises to keep pensions and social benefits apparently helped him win voters over 60 by a 61-39 percent margin, exit polls for TVN24 showed.

 Kaczynski said Monday that Poland wanted "good relations with Russia and Germany."

"The first step to improving relations with Russia would be a visit by President Putin to Warsaw," Kaczynski told reporters. Such a visit, he said, should come "as soon as possible."

 State Duma Deputy Konstantin Kosachyov said Monday that Kaczynski's election could open the way for improvemed relations with Warsaw, Itar-Tass reported. Russia more easily builds ties with conservatives "even if their initial stand is absolutely unacceptable," said Kosachyov, head of the Duma's International Affairs Committee.