Polish Ruling Party’s Backing Plunges on Abortion Ban
(Bloomberg) -- Support for Poland’s ruling party plunged after its chairman, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, defended a Supreme Court abortion ruling, denounced protesters and called on people to defend churches “at all costs.”
More than half a million Poles protested in about 500 towns and cities on Friday against the Oct. 22 ruling, which effectively banned all abortions except for in cases of incest, rape or danger to the mother’s life. On Monday, groups of demonstrators blocked key roads and intersections, slowing or stopping traffic on the capial for a second time in a week.
The verdict, which arose from a court challenge from the governing Law & Justice Party, further tightened one of Europe’s strictest abortion legal regimes and requires that fetuses with lethal birth defects be carried to term and delivered.
Kaczynski, the nation’s most powerful politician, denounced the pro-choice ralliers as “nihilists.” Law & Justice has vowed to return Polish society to its traditional Catholic roots and opposes the European Union’s liberal, multi-cultural values, a stance that has put it at odds with the bloc.
But the party’s support has fallen since the court ruling. Last month, 30.9% of Poles backed Law & Justice, a decline of 9.6 percentage points, according to an Oct. 31 poll by United Surveys for Radio RMF and Dziennik newspaper. The opposition-leading Civic Coalition gained two points to 25.3%.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki repeated his appeal to protesters to stay home to avoid spreading the coronavirus pandemic. He apologized for forcing shut cemeteries last weekend, during the All Saints Day holiday when Poles traditionally visit the graves of family and friends.
“I understand your bitterness and disappointment but we had to opt for a painful decision,” Morawiecki said in a video message on Monday. ‘I want to apologize to all that have been most hit by this decision, the government will cover the losses you incurred.”
‘Wait It Out’
Nearly 70% Poles saw Kaczynski’s recent actions negatively and more than 70% believe he should step down as head of the party, according to a separate survey by the IBRiS pollster for the Rzeczpospolita newspaper.
“We can see tumbling support in several polls but the ruling party seems to believe it can wait it out,” Jaroslaw Flis, a sociologist at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, said on TVN24 Monday. The next general election is scheduled for 2023.
Kaczynski’s denunciation of the protests has only inflamed the anger over the court ruling, while right-wing activists have clashed with protesters and the police.
On Friday over 800,000 people protested across Poland, including over 100,000 who gathered in the capital in a peaceful march. More street blockades are expected Monday, with organizers saying they will continue until the court ruling’s consequences are reversed.
The United Surveys poll also showed that 60% don’t support an offer of compromise by President Andrzej Duda, who has proposed allowing abortions in cases in which the fetus wouldn’t survive birth.
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