Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski speaks during a party convention in Bialystok, Poland September 5, 2019. Agnieszka Sadowska/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS
September 7, 2019
WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party will offer pensioners a regular yearly cash bonus, party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski was quoted as saying on Saturday ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections.
And Kaczynski, who has no formal government post but is seen as Poland’s de-facto leader, was also quoted as saying in an interview with tabloid Super Express that he expects Mateusz Morawiecki to remain as Prime Minister if PiS wins on Oct. 13.
PiS, which is leading in opinion polls, faces a tough election campaign as its image as the party fighting for justice in Poland has been tarnished by political scandals.
Its parliamentary speaker resigned after Polish media revealed that he had used a government jet for private trips with his family.
And Poland’s deputy justice minister quit after he sought to discredit judges critical of the government’s judicial reforms by planting rumors about their private lives.
Against this background, PiS, which is targeting a majority in the new parliament, has decided to increase handouts to voters, especially its core electorate, including the elderly who this year received a one-off cash bonus.
Kaczynski told Super Express ahead of the PiS party congress taking place on Saturday that the cash payments would be made permanent as the party tries “to improve the situation of the poorest pensioners”.
Analysts have said that this year’s one-off bonus for pensioners, which was offered ahead of the elections to the European Parliament, cost the Polish state almost 11 billion zloty ($2.8 billion).
PiS won 26 seats and the anti-PiS opposition 25 in the election to select members of the European Parliament. Polls show Poles remain a very pro-EU nation.
The latest opinion polls show PiS may win around 43% of the votes in next month’s general election, while other parties combined may get 41%. Due to Poland’s voting system, this could mean a safe majority for PiS.
Despite domestic scandals and spats with the European Union over rule of law, environmental policy, migrants, PiS has maintained its popularity, thanks largely to a social program which includes 500 zloty handouts for every child in a family.
Kaczynski, who has been in constant conflict with Brussels, also said that Poland probably lost more money due to mafia organizations taking money out than it received in EU support.
($1 = 3.9310 zlotys)
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Alexander Smith)