- - Sunday, October 2, 2011

POLAND

Conservatives bridge gap in pre-vote poll

WARSAW — Poland’s conservative opposition almost closed the gap on the governing liberals in an opinion poll released Sunday, with a week to go to the Oct. 9 general election.

The latest survey saw 30.1 percent of those polled throwing their support behind Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform, a sharp drop from the 47 percent he mustered a month ago.

Meanwhile, the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party’s stock was stable, with 29.1 percent of voter intention, leaving a 1-percentage-point gap small enough for the pollster’s margin of error to change the order.

The conservatives are led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the identical twin of late President Lech Kaczynski, who died in an April 2010 air crash in Russia.

The latest poll was carried out by the Homo Homini group on a sample of 1,500 people. A further survey taking undecided voters’ preferences into account put PiS ahead of the liberals by 0.2 percent.

A poll conducted by the OBOP institute, however, maintained the liberals as clear front-runners, with 31 percent to the conservatives’ 22.

SPAIN

Ruling party makes employment key plank

MADRID — The Spanish ruling party’s candidate for prime minister in polls next month, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, pledged Sunday to cut record unemployment and shield education and health care from spending cuts.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced last year he would not seek a third term, and Mr. Rubalcaba, who served as interior minister and deputy prime minister, is the Socialists’ candidate for the Nov. 20 poll.

“Employment is a big national problem. It is the best of causes that we can defend,” he told the closing session of a three-day party congress held to outline his election program.

Spain has the highest unemployment rate among developed nations, with joblessness pegged at a record 20.89 percent, following the collapse of a labor-intensive property boom in 2008.

Mr. Zapatero’s government also has had to adopt unpopular austerity measures, such as cuts to civil servant wages, to rein in Spain’s public deficit and calm market fears that the country will need a financial bailout.

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