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Ex-Polish Official Wins Run-Off

November 11, 2002

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Poland’s former justice minister easily won a run-off vote to become Warsaw’s new mayor, according to official results Monday.

Lech Kaczynski’s victory could help revive the fortunes of the fragmented center-right, which was defeated in last year’s parliamentary vote, analysts said.

Ryszard Pienkowski, with the private PBS polling agency, said Kaczynski has become the right’s top figure with the vote. ``It gives him a chance to unite the right,″ Pienkowski said.

Kaczynski won 70 percent of the vote in a run-off against Marek Balicki, a former health minister fielded by Prime Minister Leszek Miller’s left-wing coalition.

Kaczynski has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate when Aleksander Kwasniewki’s second term ends in three years, and he suggested that being Poland’s mayor would help him qualify for the presidency.

``If it’s possible to run Warsaw in a different way, I think it’s possible to run Poland,″ he said. Center-right incumbent Wojciech Kozak, an independent, did not run.

Kaczynski, a 56-year-old attorney, campaigned on strengthening Warsaw’s police and fighting corruption. He was justice minister in 2000 and 2001.

The local elections were the first time since the end of communism in 1989 that Poles directly elect mayors, who were previously chosen by local councils.

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