Polish Court Row Takes Toll on Ruling Party as Support Dives

  • Law & Justice support drops to 27% from 42%, TNS survey shows
  • Ruling party leader compares critics with Nazi collaborators

A row over the Polish ruling party’s appointments to the Constitutional Court is eroding its support less than two months after an unprecedented election victory.

Support for Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Law & Justice plunged to 27 percent, according to a Dec. 11-12 TNS poll for Gazeta Wyborcza. That’s down from 42 percent at the beginning of December and compares with 37.6 percent won during the party’s landslide victory Oct. 25 that ended the Civic Platform’s eight-year rule.

“Law & Justice is increasingly being associated with confusion on the political scene rather than with effectiveness, an image it’s been building so far,” Andrzej Rychard, a sociologist at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, said by phone on Tuesday. “This is just one poll, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it marked the beginning of a trend.”

The dropoff in support that was captured in the survey has since spilled over into protests that brought thousands of people to the streets of major Polish cities on Saturday. The demonstrators accused the new administration and its ally, President Andrzej Duda, of violating the system of checks and balances guaranteed by the constitution.

Court Dispute

The marches were held a day after Kaczynski told TV Republika in an interview that his political opponents carry the “gene of betrayal” when it comes to Poland’s national interests and are “the worst kind of Poles.” He turned up the rhetoric on Tuesday by comparing his critics with accomplices of German invaders during World War II.

“Please be serious, do you think that those who collaborated with the Nazi Gestapo police and Polish underground fighters from the Home Army are the same kind of people? I don’t think so,” Kaczynski told a TV reporter when asked if he will apologize for his comments.

The nation’s highest court ruled last week that regulations passed by Law & Justice in November breached the constitution on multiple counts. Duda refuses to adhere to the tribunal’s rulings, which would force him to swear in three justices picked by the previous parliament.

More than two thirds of Poles view Duda as dependent on Kaczynski and his party, while 58 percent saw the decisions made by the president and the parliamentary majority as a threat to democracy, according to the survey.

Law & Justice is still Poland’s most popular party, ahead of the Nowoczesna opposition group, which had 24 percent support in the poll. Civic Platform was backed by 16 percent of respondents.

The TNS poll was conducted by phone among 1,000 Poles. No margin of error was given.

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