Poland’s presidential election is set for a run off between the conservative opposition candidate and the center-right incumbent, whose departure could lead to a change of political and economic priorities in the European Union’s largest emerging economy. The challenger, Andrzej Duda, scored a surprise victory on Sunday in the first round of voting, taking 34.5% of the vote, according to a late exit poll. President Bronislaw Komorowski, supported by the center-right camp that has ruled Poland for nearly eight years, had hoped to win the race by an outright majority but came second with 33.1%.
A contentious battle for the country’s presidency is likely on May 24 if the final tally, expected Tuesday, confirms no candidate won more than 50% of the vote. The two candidates have now rushed to woo the voters of former rock star Pawel Kukiz, who came third with 20.5% of the vote, promising to overturn the country’s political establishment.
Poland’s governing class is increasingly unpopular despite two decades of uninterrupted economic growth and stability. Despite this, incomes are low by Western European standards, with the average pretax wage around $1,150 in March. Low wages have contributed to the mass migration of Poles to other EU states.