Source AP ©

Polish opposition leaders to debate

Polish oppositional leader go head-to-head in a live debate for the first time Monday. This is the final TV confrontation before weekend elections.

The debate between main opposition leader Donald Tusk and former President Aleksander Kwasniewski, an ex-communist and potential coalition ally, pits two men who could shape, or even share, the next Polish government.

Both the pro-business Tusk and Kwasniewski have already debated with conservative Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski ahead of Sunday's polls.

Tusk leads Civic Platform, a party with strong pro-market but socially conservative views, that currently leads the polls and hopes to beat Kaczynski's nationalist Law and Justice party into second place and unseat him as premier.

Kwasniewski is the prime ministerial candidate for the Left and Democrats, a new alliance of ex-communists and some former anti-communist dissidents.

Kwasniewski is an ex-communist who went on to serve as a popular president for 10 years until 2005 while Tusk is a member of the anti-communist opposition that helped bring about the transition to democracy starting in 1989.

Law and Justice won 2005 elections, but finished well short of a parliamentary majority. It has ruled as a weak minority government and, for a time, in an uneasy alliance with two small, unpredictable populist parties - a coalition that caused alarm abroad and alienated many Poles.

Kaczynski sought new elections, two years ahead of schedule, in an effort to put an end to near-constant political crisis after his coalition collapsed.

Observers view coalitions between Civic Platform and Law and Justice, or between Civic Platform and the Left and Democrats, as possible combinations after the election.

A poll published Monday put support for Tusk's Civic Platform at 46 percent, for Law and Justice at 32 percent and the Left and Democrats at 11 percent.

The figures mark a sharp jump in support for Tusk after a strong showing in a debate Friday against the prime minister.

The TNS OPB poll for the Dziennik daily questioned 1,000 people Saturday, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.