BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania's leftist government has lost support following its failed attempt to impeach the country's president but would still win an outright majority in a parliamentary election later this year, an opinion poll suggested on Tuesday.
The ruling Social Liberal Union (USL) of Prime Minister Victor Ponta was backed by 57.1 percent of voters, the survey conducted by pollster IMAS during August 9-14, showed.
That was down from 66.6 percent recorded in June, before the government took the divisive decision to suspend its right-wing rival President Traian Basescu and call an impeachment referendum.
The USL's ultimately unsuccessful push to dismiss Basescu slowed policy-making, battered the leu currency and raised questions about the fate of an International Monetary Fund-led 5 billion euro aid deal.
The European Commission and the United States criticized the methods used by the government, saying they were a threat to democracy and the rule of law.
If the USL fails to win an outright parliamentary majority in the December vote, Basescu would be in a strong position because the president appoints the prime minister after an election.
The poll, published in newspaper Adevarul, showed the opposition Democrat-Liberal Party (PDL), which has close ties to Basescu, would win 17.8 percent of votes. The party is still unpopular following the wage cuts and tax hikes it imposed while in government earlier this year.
Populist Dan Diaconescu, whose new party advocates steep tax cuts, had 14.1 percent support.
An overwhelming majority of voters chose to impeach Basescu in the impeachment referendum but Romania's Constitutional Court struck down the vote because turnout was less than the required half the electorate.
Analysts said the attempt to remove Basescu reflected a broader struggle for power and control of the judicial system in the EU's second poorest state where corruption is rampant.
DATE POLLSTER USL PDL PPDD UDMR
Aug 2012 IMAS 57.1% 17.8% 14.1% 5.8%
Aug 2012 IRES 54.0% 23.0% 10.0% 5.0%
July 2012 CURS 63.0% 19.0% 9.0% 6.0%
June 2012 IMAS 66.6% 12.7% 9.8% 4.3%
March 2012 IMAS 48.4% 18.6% 16.6% 7.0%
Feb 2012 CSOP 47.0% 20.0% 18.0% 5.0%
Feb 2012 CCSB 57.0% 18.0% 12.0% 4.0%
Jan 2012 IMAS 53.4% 15.8% 13.9% 5.8%
USL - The ruling Social-Liberal Union alliance
PDL - the rightist opposition Democrat-Liberal Party
PPDD - Populist People's Party of media tycoon Dan Diaconescu
UDMR - Ethnic Hungarian party, junior ruling coalition party
(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Andrew Heavens)