Poland's veteran pro-democracy leader Lech Walesa threw his weight on Thursday behind the speaker of parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski, to become the country's next president.
The ruling centrist Civic Platform (PO) may name as early as next Tuesday its presidential candidate. PO's leader, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, has said Komorowski and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski are the most likely candidates.
Asked who would be the better choice, Walesa told Radio Zet: "I am betting on Komorowski."
Walesa, who has close links to the economically liberal, pro-euro PO, previously urged Tusk himself not to run for president. In January Tusk announced he wanted to continue as prime minister in order to tackle Poland's economic problems.
"He (Tusk) still has time. After a good premiership there will be another presidential election and he will have really good chances," Walesa said.
Tusk is Poland's most popular politician, but surveys show both Komorowski and Sikorski could beat Poland's conservative President Lech Kaczynski, who is widely expected to seek a fresh five-year mandate this year.
Asked about the chances of the two possible PO candidates on Thursday, Tusk told reporters: "I am not evading the question when I say it is 50-50. I will be very happy if PO chooses Komorowski and I will be very happy if it chooses Sikorski. I don't see any third candidate being considered."
Speaking in Brussels, where he was attending talks on the Greek debt crisis, Tusk added that he would like PO to hold an American-style primary to select its presidential candidate.
In Poland, the government holds most power but the president can veto laws and has a say on security and foreign issues. Kaczynski has often blocked the Tusk government's reforms.
Surveys show Sikorski is more popular than Komorowski but he is a party outsider and officials fear his feisty style could hamper smooth cooperation with the government if he won.
Poland also faces a parliamentary election next year.
Two polls published on Thursday showed PO maintaining a strong lead over its nearest rival, the nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) led by Kaczynski's twin brother Jaroslaw.
A PBS DGA survey published by Gazeta Wyborcza daily showed support for PO inching up to 48 percent while PiS was on 28 percent, slightly down from the previous poll.
A second poll by GfK Polonia, published in the Rzeczpospolita daily, gave PO 50 percent and PiS 27 percent.
ReutersLast Mod: 11 Şubat 2010, 19:06