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Polish PM sails through second vote over eavesdropping affair

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

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 preempted 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.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140711/polish-pm-sails-through-second-vote-over-eavesdropping-affair