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Polish President Concedes Defeat in Sunday's Polls


FILES - A combination of pictures shows Andrzej Duda (L), the conservative party PiS (Law and Justice) candidate for President in the Polish election, and challenger incumbent Bronislaw Komorowski (R).

Incumbent Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, facing a surprisingly strong electoral challenge from conservative Andrzej Duda, conceded defeat Sunday. His concession came a short while after voting ended and a key exit poll showed him trailing by a 53-47 percent margin.

Komorowski, a strong early favorite to win a second 5-year term, spoke to supporters late Sunday in Warsaw, saying "I wish my challenger a successful presidency."

A 62-year-old historian and former defense minister, Komorowski campaigned for a second term largely on national security issues, including heightened tensions with Russia over the Ukraine crisis. He was forced into Sunday's runoff vote, after finishing second to Duda in first round polls May 10.

The victory for the 43-year-old challenger marks the first major electoral win for the opposition Law and Justice party that nominated him.

The win ends more than eight years of political dominance by the incumbent's Civic Platform party. It also sets the stage for what analysts predict will be a tight reelection battle later this year between Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz -- a Komorowski ally -- and the conservative opposition.

In Poland, the prime minister leads the government, but the president heads the armed forces and has a say in foreign policy and legislative initiatives.