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Published: Thursday September 4, 2014 MYT 1:00:10 AM
Updated: Thursday September 4, 2014 MYT 1:00:15 AM

Deputy PM Bienkowska is Poland's candidate for EU commission

KRYNICA-ZDROJ/WARSAW Poland (Reuters) - Deputy Prime Minister Elzbieta Bienkowska is Poland's candidate to become one of the new European commissioners, Deputy Prime Minister Janusz Piechocinski said on Wednesday, heralding further change at the top of the country's government.

A board member of the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party, Tomasz Lenz, separately told reporters the party's ambition is that Bienkowska became commissioner for internal market and services.

"Bienkowska is our candidate for commissioner post," Piechocinski told Reuters.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk has already agreed to take the leading job of European Council president.

Tusk may resign as soon as this month with parliamentary speaker Ewa Kopacz, who is also first deputy head of the ruling Civic Platform party, seen as clear favourite to replace him.

The departure of Tusk, who became the first Polish prime minister since the end of communism to win two consecutive elections, was expected to leave a sizable hole for the ruling Civic Platform party to fill.

Some politicians also have warned that Tusk's departure may lead to tensions inside his own party and diminish its chances in 2015 general elections.

But a Millward Brown poll conducted after Tusk's nomination for the Brussels post showed a significant, 5-percentage points boost in support for his party, currently at 31 percent and only one point behind the main opposition party Law and Justice (PiS).

A move to Brussels by Bienkowska would cause much less disruption politically, because she is not a member of the party and is more of a technocratic figure.

At the start of this year she was seen in some government circles as a potential successor to Tusk.

That idea appeared to have been quietly put to one side after she made some faltering television appearances, and her personal popularity rating dropped.

Whoever is given Bienkowska's infrastructure portfolio in the government will have to be capable of overseeing massive projects to revamp Poland's roads and railways, many of them part-funded by the European Union.

(Reporting Wojciech Zurawski and Pawel Sobczak; Writing by Wiktor Szary; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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