Poland's ruling party hit by scandals, poll shows

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, hit by two high profile resignations, lost 5 percentage points in an opinion poll published on Friday ahead of October’s election.

This is the first poll that has shown the gap between PiS and pro-democratic opposition narrowing significantly in the campaign for the vote in which the deeply divided nation will elect members of the upper and lower houses of parliament.

The figures come after a deputy justice minister resigned this week following a website’s report he sought to discredit judges critical of the government’s judicial reforms by planting media rumors about their private lives.

His resignation followed that of the PiS parliament speaker for using government aircraft for private trips.

A poll by Kantar conducted on Aug. 22 showed PiS with 39% support, down from 44% on Aug. 13, while its arch-rival the centrist Civic Platform (PO) had 30%, up 3 points since mid-August. The leftist coalition Lewica remained on 11%.

According to the opposition the election will decide if the ruling party, which remains at loggerheads with the European Union over issues such as the rule of law, logging forests, CO2 emission targets and refugees, will be able to finish its reforms and install itself in power for decades thanks to planned changes to the constitution.

Polling numbers had held steady, as economic factors such as the ruling party’s generous welfare handouts, had prevailed - leading analysts previously to predict the party would weather the storm over the resignations.

But now they are questioning whether that will continue.

“It is all about the commotion over private flights and the deputy justice minister. It may be reflected in the poll and it helps the liberals. Of course one has to wait to see if this is a trend or not,” said Rafal Chwedoruk, a political scientist at Warsaw University.

The Kantar poll was conducted for private broadcaster TVN24.

The coalition of agrarian party PSL and the anti-system Kukiz’15 would receive 6%, up 2 percentage points, while far-right grouping Konfederacja also rose 1 percentage point to 6%.

Reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz, Marcin Goclowski; Additional reporting by Alan Charlish; Editing by Alison Williams

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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