Polish Prime Minister Wins Confidence Vote

(Bloomberg) -- Poland’s prime minister won a confidence vote on Wednesday, preempting a debate on an opposition-led no-confidence motion as scandals and a clash with the European Union dent support for his ruling party.

Mateusz Morawiecki won the confidence motion 231 to 181, confirming a comfortable majority his Law & Justice party controls in parliament. Still, the party performed worse than expected in October regional elections, with voters upset at the its standoff with the EU over the rule of law. A scandal involving the banking watchdog may also sway public support ahead of next year’s elections.

“Looking at the economic data and our social policy, I think we’ll be able to continue beyond our term, but I also need to confirm our majority now,” Morawiecki, who took the post last year, told lawmakers. “We have a historic chance to catch up with the wealth levels of Spain and Italy. We can do it if Law & Justice remains in power.”

The ruling party is seeking to consolidate its ranks and regain the initiative ahead European Parliament elections in May and general election slated for next fall. Recent polls showed that after the October vote and the scandal, support for Law & Justice dropped 5 percentage points to 33 percent, still 7 points ahead of the biggest opposition group.

Robust growth, near record-low unemployment and rising wages have put Poland on track to converge economically with more affluent Western peers, Morawiecki said. He criticized opposition parties for stirring unrest by seeking input over the rule-of-law dispute from Brussels, where EU leaders meet Thursday to discuss Brexit and the bloc’s new budget.

Parliament has scheduled the opposition’s no-confidence motion for debate late on Friday, in what the government’s opponents have decried as an attempt to avoid an open debate.

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