Poland’s Ruling Party Promises Child Benefit Rise As Election Nears

Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki surrounded by supporters from across Poland at party convention, 13 May 2023. Photo: BIRN

The 500+ program is credited with being one of the major campaign promises that carried PiS to power in 2015. Experts say that while it did help reduce child poverty, it has not had a positive impact on birth rates, as the government had hoped. The government is currently spending 40 billion zloty (almost 9 billion euros) a year to finance it.

In announcing the increase in the benefit, Kaczynski sought to preempt criticism that the additional expenditure would contribute to rising inflation, a major concern in Poland over the last year. In February, inflation reached its highest level since 1996 at 18.4 per cent.

"We hope that inflation will be low in the new year, so this new financial injection will no longer threaten a return to inflationary tendencies - we have taken this into account," Kaczynski said.

Further promises made by PiS at the end of the congress were free medicines for children and seniors, and abolishing tolls on national highways.

The weekend party convention, attended by BIRN, is one of two major party events that PiS is expected to organise ahead of this autumn's general election, where polls so far indicate either the government or the opposition could win.

PiS had been expected to deliver major promises at this convention. The announcements made as well as the content of discussions over the weekend indicate that PiS has not been able to come up with fresh ideas, but will most likely continue to rely on the old recipe that has worked for the party over the past two election cycles: financial handouts to the most disadvantaged social groups.

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