WARSAW, Poland — An exit poll predicted Sunday that nationalist opposition candidate Andrzej Duda will win the most votes in the first round of Poland's presidential election and will face incumbent Bronislaw Komorowski in a May 24 runoff.
In a surprise prediction for the vote that took place Sunday, Duda, who is no fan of the European Union, is expected to capture 34.8 percent of the vote to Komorowski's 32.2 percent, according to the IPSOS poll published by the private TVN24 and the state-run PAP news agency.
The prediction also suggested a rising dissatisfaction with the ruling pro-EU establishment led by the center-right and pro-business Civic Platform party, which has been in power since 2007. That dissatisfaction was also seen in the unexpectedly high support — 20.3 percent of the vote — predicted for punk rock star Pawel Kukiz, a candidate who is critical of the government.
The vote was a test for Poland's two major political forces, represented by Komorowski and Duda, ahead of the country's parliamentary election in the fall. Duda's Law and Justice party backs a mix of national pride, Catholic values and socialist welfare promises and is more conservative than the current government.
Komorowski, who has served since 2010 and made harmony his trademark, called for a debate with Duda and vowed to urgently present new reforms.
"The result of the exit poll is a serious warning for the entire team in power," Komorowski said. "We should listen to the voters, because it's evidently necessary to mobilize all rational forces in Poland."
He appealed for energy and cooperation with the "large group of voters evidently disillusioned and waiting for fast, much faster change and modernization."
A beaming Duda appealed to voters for more support in the presidential runoff.
"We want to have a dignified life in a safe Poland, which needs to be mended in many areas," Duda said. "Today this primarily means a change at the presidential office."
"We will win," he said.
The exit poll predicted that no candidate would win more than 50 percent of the votes needed to avoid a runoff and put turnout at 49.4 percent of Poland's more than 30.2 million voters.
With most power in the hands of Poland's prime minister and the government, the presidency has mostly ceremonial duties but the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces and has the power to propose and veto legislation.
Official results could be announced late Monday, the State Electoral Commission said.