Poland's small leftist opposition named its leader Grzegorz Napieralski on Thursday as its candidate in June's presidential election after its previous nominee was killed in a plane crash in Russia.
The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) had chosen Jerzy Szmajdzinski as its candidate for an election originally set for the autumn, but he died along with Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and 94 others in the April 10 crash near Smolensk.
The crash forced Poland to bring forward the date of the election to June 20. Opinion polls show Acting President Bronislaw Komorowski, the candidate of Poland's centrist ruling Civic Platform (PO), winning the election by a wide margin.
"It wasn't me and it wasn't Kalisz," said EU Deputy Marek Siwiec, who with former Interior Minister Ryszard Kalisz were also considered potential SLD candidates. He said the party had chosen Napieralski.
Napieralski, a 36-year-old party insider, had previously declined to run, which analysts speculated was likely caused by his concerns that the expected poor showing would undermine his position atop the party.
The SLD, heir of Poland's once-mighty communist party, has failed to rebuild its support since losing power in 2005 amid a slew of corruption scandals. It won only around 10 percent of votes in the last national election in 2007.
A poll for broadcaster TVN showed on Thursday that SLD is backed by 6 percent of Poles, barely above the 5-percent level required to enter parliament.
Komorowski's main rival is likely to be the candidate, still to be named, of the right-wing opposition Law and Justice Party (PiS), led by Kaczynski's twin brother Jaroslaw.
PiS is expected to name its candidate in the coming days. Polish media say it is increasingly probable that Jaroslaw Kaczynski will seek to replace his late brother in the top job.
ReutersLast Mod: 23 Nisan 2010, 10:20