Advertisement

Projections show Walesa elected president

By
BOGDAN TUREK

WARSAW, Poland -- Computer projections based on exit polls showed Sunday that Lech Walesa, who doggedly led the Solidarity trade union in a decadelong battle that ended communist rule, won Poland's first popular presidential election.

Projections broadcast on Polish television shortly after the polls closed showed Walesa expected to take 74.7 percent of the vote.

Advertisement

Election officials were busy Sunday night counting the vote, and the official results were expected to be announced Monday afternoon.

The computer projections, made by the German polling firm INFAS, were based on the results of exit polling from 294 of 303 selected polling stations across the Eastern European country.

Emigre Canadian businessman Stanislaw Tyminski, the dark-horse candidate who upset Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki in the first round Nov. 25, was projected to take 25.3 percent.

Some 5,000 cheering supporters chanting, 'Lech Walesa, Lech Walesa' and waving Polish flags, balloons and torches gathered on a crisp wintry night outside his campaign headquarters in Gdansk two hours after the polls closed.

'I want to be your biggest servant, not your president,' he said in a brief address out a window, waving and giving the familiar 'V-for- victory' Solidarity salute.

Advertisement

An hour after the projections were announced, Tyminski said he would protest the election results Monday on the grounds that Walesa supporters conducted a fear campaign.

'There's been a lot of violence,' Tyminski said. 'Even some of my friends did not want to know me before these elections because of the fears of the ax of Mr. Walesa.'

Some 27.5 million Poles were eligible to vote in the runoff, but there were signs of a lower turnout than the 61 percent showing in the first round Nov. 25.

The two rounds of elections were the first wholly free balloting in Poland since before World War II. The June 1989 parliamentary elections that eventually swept Solidarity into office were only partially free.

But they proved to be a bitter test for the fledgling democracy. Walesa's months-long campaign to replace the former Communist Party leader, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, split Solidarity into two opposing camps of Walesa supporters and Mazowiecki supporters.

When Mazowiecki felt forced to run against Walesa to defend his program, he failed to realize the depth of public resentment against his economic stabilization policies, which has dropped the standard of living nearly 40 percent in his 14 months in office.

Advertisement

The computer projections of the vote Sunday showed Walesa got the strongest support from women, the highly educated, farmers and the elderly. Tyminski's highest margin of support came from young people ages 18 to 25 and workers.

Tyminski, dubbed 'the man from nowhere,' returned to Poland in September after 21 years to run for the nation's highest office.

His surprise showing in the first round was attributed to voter dissatisfaction with Mazowiecki's policies and with the fight within Solidarity, which for nearly a decade had been united in its opposition to the Communist Party.

Tyminski was hurt in the second round by revelations his campaign organization included many former communist elite and secret police, and his popularity slid dramatically in the final week of the campaign according to opinion polls.

Walesa voted with his wife Danuta and son Slawek in his hometown of Gdansk at 10:25 a.m. Tyminski cast his vote at noon in Pecice, outside Warsaw. Neither spoke to reporters, but Walesa supporters had a victory rally planned for Sunday evening.

Some 20,000 young people who turned 18 in the past two weeks could not take part in the voting. The same voting lists are used for the runoff as for the first round, but although they have the right to vote they were not included on the lists.

Advertisement

Latest Headlines