January 14, 2018 / 7:41 PM / 6 months ago

Poland's government reshuffle boosts support for ruling party

WARSAW (Reuters) - Public support for Poland’s ruling conservatives has risen while backing for the biggest opposition party fell as a recent government reshuffle helped ease voters’ dissatisfaction with Warsaw’s clashes with the EU, an opinion poll showed.

According to the IPSOS poll, concluded on Saturday for the OKO.press news website, public support for the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has risen to 43 percent, up three percentage points from August and highest ever in IPSOS polls.

Support for the centrist Civic Platform, which ruled Poland for eight years until 2015 and now accuses PiS of undermining democratic standards, fell to 19 percent from 21 percent.

Since coming to power in 2015, PiS has increased its influence over the courts and state media, putting Poland on a collision course with the European Union.

In December the EU executive launched unprecedented action, calling on other member states to prepare to sanction Warsaw if it fails to reverse judicial reforms that Brussels says pose a threat to democracy.

A few weeks later Poland’s new Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki fired several senior ministers, including the most controversial, which critics say was a part of a grand plan to ease tensions and win support ahead of coming elections.

Opposition groups have been losing popularity and last week’s debate on a new abortion law highlighted their crisis.

On Wednesday, the lower house of parliament decided to take up work on a bill that would ban abortions in the case of irreversible damage to the foetus, removing the main legal recourse Polish women have to obtain a termination.

It earlier rejected a proposal to liberalize the abortion law, because it failed to attract enough votes from members of opposition parties.

In the 2015 election, PiS received nearly 38 percent of votes. The next general election will be held in 2019.

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko, editing by David Evans

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