On May 14, during the Law and Justice (PiS) convention the election promises were made. Will these promises lead to prolongation of the PiS rule in Poland?
There are the specific program announcements presented by Jarosław Kaczyński, and the most important is: 800+ in place of 500+ from 2024. The “Family 500+” program is the name of childcare benefit of PLN 500 per month, payable to each child until 18 years of age. This benefit was introduced by PiS in 2015.
So far, we do not know whether the larger benefit would cover all children, or only the second and subsequent ones. If all of them, the current cost of the program – about 40 billion zlotys a year – would rise to about 64 billion zlotys (more than 14 billion euros). This would account for nearly 10 percent of state budget spending in 2023.
Kaczynski also announced that seniors over the age of 65, as well as children under the age of 18, will be entitled to free medicine. He also announced that the government intends to make highways and expressways throughout the country free. Moreover, as part of its diplomatic offensive, Law and Justice intends to bring about the abrogation of the 1997 Russia-NATO treaty.
Kaczyński mentioned (without details) the reconstruction of vocational education, the training of Polish experts in “atomic science” to handle the investments in nuclear energy planned by the government. As always, he announced the fight to preserve Polish sovereignty, the fight with the European Union in which PiS plans to stay on its own terms.
Donald Tusk’s Answer
Civic Coalition leader Donal Tusk notes that the said indexation (valorization) of the “Family 500+” program corresponds to what the program’s beneficiaries have lost due to inflation and high prices. He suggested that in order to close the bidding on this issue, the change to 800+ should be adopted by vote as soon as possible. He called for this to be done before the elections. The opposition leader wants the indexation to take place as early as June, six months earlier than Kaczyński. The Civic Coalition parliamentary group has registered a bill on this matter in the Sejm.
One thing is certain, the 800+ will be the main theme of the campaign. The electoral effect of this universal benefit is very important for PiS. On the other side, the opposition (despite the far right) – in eyes of the public opinion – falls into the trap of bidding, lacks positive proposals, and uses imperfect narrative. The fact that Tusk has a very strong negative electorate and there is no real liberal alternative on the political stage makes the situation even more complicated and casts away the vision of victory of democratic forces in autumn.