Polish government ministers resign over eavesdropping scandal

(Front row, from left) Poland's Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz and Speaker of the Parliament Radoslaw Sikorski applauding after the announcement of Poland's local election results in
(Front row, from left) Poland's Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz and Speaker of the Parliament Radoslaw Sikorski applauding after the announcement of Poland's local election results in Warsaw on Nov 16, 2014. Parliamentary Speaker Sikorski and the ministers of the treasury, health and sports tendered their resignations on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 -- PHOTO: AFP

WARSAW (AFP) - Three Polish government ministers and the speaker of parliament tendered their resignations on Wednesday over a high profile eavesdropping scandal, the country's premier said.

Centrist Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz announced that Parliamentary Speaker Radoslaw Sikorski and the ministers of the treasury, health and sports had resigned as her unpopular government faces a general election this autumn.

Polish media on Tuesday was awash with news of the publication on the Internet of leaked transcripts from a government eavesdropping scandal that erupted in June last year.

At the time, the Polish news magazine Wprost released a secret recording of the central bank chief purportedly cutting a deal with the then interior minister to support the government's economic policy if the finance minister should quit.

The magazine later released transcripts of other wiretapped conversations, including one in which then foreign minister 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 a period of 18 months.

The bugging affair resulted in charges against several people, including a restaurant manager and waiters - prompting some to label the affair "Waitergate" on social media.

The popularity of Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz's centrist Civic Platform PO government is waning.

The party scored a second term in office with a November 2011 landslide, but slow economic growth and persistent unemployment have since taken a toll on public support.

Meanwhile, the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) opposition party has gained ground in opinion polls, with some indicating it could win the autumn general election.

PiS candidate Andrzej Duda scored a surprise victory in last month's presidential election, edging out PO ally President Bronislaw Komorowski.