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AFP: Polish pro-EU opposition lead governing populists: poll

Sofia. Pro-EU opposition parties in Poland have pulled ahead of the governing right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS) in the run-up to European parliament elections in May, an opinion poll showed Wednesday, AFP reports.

The European Coalition, an alliance of five opposition parties including liberals, leftists, farmers and greens had 35 percent support while Spring, a new progressive party took 11 percent to outpace PiS on 33 percent.

Kukiz'15, an anti-establishment radical-right parliamentary group is on course to score seven percent, according to Kantar Millward Brown pollsters.

All opposition parties have lashed out against a string of controversial PiS-authored judicial reforms that have put Poland on a collision course with the EU over concerns they threaten the rule of law.

The PiS initially insisted the changes were necessary to root out the last vestiges of communism from the justice system but subsequently backed off some measures questioned by the European Court of Justice.

The opinion survey was conducted by Kantar Millward Brown on March 5-11 on a random representative sample of 1,500 Poles.

The European Parliament elections in May are a key test for all EU governments and especially so in Poland where a general election is expected later this year.

The populist PiS has already kicked off its campaign by expanding its already generous social spending, vowing to increase a child allowance it launched after taking office in late 2015.

It has also promised to boost pension benefits for seniors.

On the European front, powerful PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has long been a fierce critic of the strong brand of EU federalism championed by EU powerhouses Germany and France.

He is among a growing number of populist leaders in the EU advocating a reform agenda for the bloc that favours national sovereignty over federalism.

Poles are overwhelmingly EU-enthusiastic, with nearly 90 percent backing membership of the bloc that has given the country billions of euros in subsidies, turbo-charging its economic development.

The European Coalition includes the main centrist opposition Civic Platform (PO); the Polish Peasants' Party (PSL); the liberal Nowoczesna party; the Social Democrats (SLD) and the Greens.

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