WARSAW Poland's ruling Civic Platform (PO) fell nine percentage points behind the rightist Law and Justice (PiS) in a poll published in Thursday, reflecting its growing unpopularity in the midst of a painful economic slowdown.
The party of Prime Minister Donald Tusk was supported by 26 percent of Poles surveyed by Millward Brown for broadcaster TV, down six points from the previous reading, while PiS's backing rose four points to 35 percent.
The lead by the opposition party, led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is its largest since September 2011.
PO has been steadily losing support in recent months as the European Union's largest eastern economy barely avoided its first recession in two decades earlier this year, hit by a drop in public spending and the euro zone contraction.
Tusk and his party, which has ruled Poland since 2007, have also suffered from a steady trickle of revelations that it has used public funds for items such as wine and cigars, as well as suits for the prime minister and dresses for his wife.
PO faces a possible embarrassing loss in a second round mayoral election in the northern town of Elblag on Sunday after a Civic Platform mayor was recalled in April. A Law and Justice candidate won in the first round two weeks ago.
Tusk's party ally in the capital city of Warsaw will likely face her own recall election in September or October.
The Millward Brown survey was conducted on July 3 on a representative sample of 1,001 adult Poles.
(Reporting by Chris Borowski; Editing by Michael Roddy)