Polish PM sails through second vote over eavesdropping affair

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Friday clinched a second confidence vote in as many weeks after the country`s opposition sought to topple his centre-right government over a high-profile bugging scandal.

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 11, 2014, 15:47 PM IST

Warsaw: Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Friday clinched a second confidence vote in as many weeks after the country`s opposition sought to topple his centre-right government over a high-profile bugging scandal.

The opposition conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party on Wednesday forwarded a motion in Parliament calling on the government to step down.

But Tusk`s two-party coalition survived as expected with backing from 236 MPs, with 155 against, 60 abstentions in the 460-member parliament.

This comes after he also won a vote of confidence he called himself on June 25, a savvy move that effectively pre-empted attempts to bring him down.

The opposition has launched a separate motion -- expected later Friday -- to remove Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz, who is implicated in the scandal. He is also expected to survive.

The controversy erupted in mid-June with the leaks of juicy exchanges between senior government officials.

The Polish news magazine Wprost released a secret recording of the central bank chief purportedly telling Sienkiewicz that he would support the government`s economic policy if the then finance minister resigned.

The magazine later released transcripts of other eavesdropped conversations, including one in which Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski allegedly calls Poland`s US ties "worthless" and blasts British Prime Minister David Cameron as "incompetent on EU affairs".

The private exchanges allegedly took place at a number of swish Warsaw restaurants over the last 18 months

Tusk has called the leaks an attempted "coup d`etat" aimed at "destabilising" Poland at a time of crisis in neighbouring Ukraine.

The bugging affair has already resulted in charges against four people, including a restaurant manager and waiter -- prompting some to label the affair "Waitergate" on social media.

A millionaire Polish businessman dealing in the coal sector with Russia was also detained, leading to speculation that Moscow is behind the leaks.

Tusk himself hinted at the possibility.

"I don`t know which alphabet was used to write this scenario, but I have no doubt as to who could benefit from it," he told parliament two weeks ago in a possible reference to Russia`s cyrillic alphabet.

Tusk began his second consecutive term in office following a November 2011 landslide, but his popularity has since waned amid muted economic growth and persistent unemployment.

But an opinion poll released this week by the Warsaw-based CBOS independent pollsters showed Tusk`s Civic Platform with 29 percent public support, ahead of PiS with 24 percent.

The next regularly scheduled general election is due in the autumn of 2015.