Poland’s first popular presidential campaign officially ended Friday with Lech Walesa enjoying a big lead and underdog challenger Stanislaw Tyminski being booed at his own rally.
Two days before Sunday’s vote, the Solidarity chairman was awarded a strong endorsement from the head of the country’s Roman Catholic Church, to which more than 90% of the population belongs.
“The Polish church will side with Walesa,” Cardinal Jozef Glemp announced. The unusually explicit statement came after a meeting in Rome with Polish-born Pope John Paul II.
“This is not a political decision but a decision based on certainty of . . . the common good for the whole country,” Glemp said.
Tyminski was trying to recapture the momentum that allowed him to upset Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki and capture second place in the first round of voting Nov. 25.
He conducted a strong first-round race even though he was a previously unknown businessman who had just returned from 21 years in Canada and Peru.
However, the last state television election poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday, showed Walesa with a 73% to 16% advantage.
On his final stop of the campaign, Tyminski told supporters in Szczecin that he would not leave Poland again, regardless of the election outcome.
Szczecin, a northwestern harbor city, traditionally has been a center of opposition to Walesa.
But Walesa’s supporters were in evidence at the rally. They booed Tyminski and shouted, “Back to Peru!” One banner called Tyminski “Tarzan From Peru.”
The rally was Tyminski’s last chance to release supposedly compromising materials on Walesa that he repeatedly has claimed to have in a black briefcase, but he held off, saying disclosure “would be harmful for our country.”
Walesa had insisted no such compromising documents existed.
By law, electioneering was barred after noon Friday. A campaign news blackout was observed by Polish newspapers and broadcasters.