Polish opposition outlines 100 policies for first 100 days in office

Poland’s main opposition group, the centrist Civic Coalition (KO), has unveiled 100 policies it aims to implement in its first 100 days in office if it wins power from the ruling national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party at October’s parliamentary elections.

Among the plans are doubling the tax-free income threshold, overturning the near-total ban on abortion, raising salaries for public-sector employees by 20%, and abolishing the so-called Church Fund that provides state subsidies to religious organisations.

“Poles everywhere have very similar and very specific dreams,” declared KO leader Donald Tusk, unveiling the pledges at a conference in the city of Tarnów on Saturday. “These 100 policies for 100 days are their desires, their hopes, their demands.”

“These are not great ideologies,” he added, quoted by news website Onet. “People in Poland want to live with dignity, they want to live normally.”

💬 Przewodniczący @donaldtusk👇

Dzień po wygranych wyborach przystąpimy do realizacji 100 konkretów na pierwsze 100 dni.#100konkretów #KongresProgramowyKO pic.twitter.com/I0cq98efTS

— PlatformaObywatelska (@Platforma_org) September 9, 2023

KO has divided its 100 promises – many of which are ideas that the group has previously announced – into 21 categories, such as family, women, businesses, health, youth, seniors, agriculture, national defence and culture.

Among those that have received the most attention is the pledge to double the tax-free income threshold – for both workers and pensioners – from 30,000 zloty (€6,484) per year to 60,000 zloty.

“Every working person who earns up to 6,000 zloty [per month] and every retiree who has a pension of up to 5,000 zloty [per month] will no longer pay income tax,” said Tusk. “And anyone who earns more will pay significantly less income tax.”

“People in Poland will have more in their pockets and everything will be better in every Polish home,” he added, quoted by broadcaster RMF24.

Poland’s main opposition has proposed doubling the tax-free income threshold. It also wants an immediate rise in child benefits.

An economist has warned that the government and opposition’s efforts to outbid one another risk overstretching the budget https://t.co/3UcYm6io5d

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) May 18, 2023

Tusk also announced a range of policies relating to reproductive rights, including restoration of the state funding for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment that was previously withdrawn by PiS.

Meanwhile, “abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy will be legal, safe and available”, reads another of KO’s promises, adding that no publicly funded hospital will be allowed to use the so-called “conscience clause” to refuse to carry out an abortion.

Women will also be given full access to prenatal testing during pregnancy and the right to free anaesthesia during childbirth. Prescription-free access to the morning-after pill, which was scrapped by PiS in 2017, will be restored.

Women’s rights is the “number one issue” in Poland, says opposition leader @donaldtusk

He declared abortion up to 12 weeks, IVF, contraception and sex education to be „fundamental rights” and pledged gender parity among his party’s top election candidates https://t.co/nWMzwejVRJ

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) March 22, 2023

As well as promising to raise pay across the public sector by 20%, KO has pledged that teachers’ salaries will rise 30%. It also promises less bureaucracy and more autonomy for teachers, including reversing the “politicisation of schools” under PiS.

To avoid children having to carry heavy school bags – a common concern among parents – KO has promised to provide individual lockers for all children in schools and electronic versions of every textbook.

“[We] will finally free [children] from this 19th-century obligation to do homework,” declared Tusk on Saturday. “Children should have contact with parents after school.”

💬 Przewodniczący @donaldtusk 👇

Podejmiemy konkretne decyzje w ciągu 100 dni, które zwolnią wreszcie z tego XIX wiecznego obowiązku odrabiania prac domowych. Dziecko po szkole ma mieć kontakt z rodzicami👇#100Konkretow #KongresProgramowyKO pic.twitter.com/e6LAVjuL5m

— PlatformaObywatelska (@Platforma_org) September 9, 2023

KO pledges to abolish the Church Fund – which provides state subsidies for the health insurance contributions of clergy and for the renovation of religious buildings – and to introduce a ban on using public money to finance the economic activities of churches and other religious associations.

Although the fund offers support to all religious organisations, in practice the vast majority of the money – which amounted to a record 200 million zloty last year – goes to the Catholic Church.

Regarding energy and climate, KO wants, among other things, to remove rules introduced by PiS that have restricted the development of onshore wind farms. It pledges to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030.

It has also announced plans to create a new ministry of industry that will be based in Silesia, Poland’s traditional coal-mining heartland. The department will seek to bring together entrepreneurs, industry, academia and NGOs, says Borys Budka, head of KO’s parliamentary caucus.

State energy firm PGE – Poland’s largest electricity producer – has abandoned a strategy to reach climate neutrality more quickly less than a week after announcing it.

The decision came after complaints about the plans from coal miners https://t.co/bnHPJxjywI

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 5, 2023

Ahead of PO’s unveiling of its 100 policies, PiS had on Friday launched its own campaign on social media with the hashtag #KłamstwaTusk (#TusksLies) drawing attention to examples of how Tusk broke promises during his previous term as prime minister in 2007-14.

Between Monday and Thursday last week, PiS each day unveiled its own major campaign policies, including pledges to spend billions of zloty on improving communist-era housing estates and on improving food in hospitals.

PiS continues to lead the polls, with support of around 35-36%, ahead of KO on 29%. Those figures would almost certainly not be enough to allow either party to rule alone, meaning they would need a coalition or some other kind of arrangement with smaller parties.

KO’s potential coalition partners, the centre-right Third Way (Trzecia Droga) and The Left (Lewica), are on 9-10% and 8% respectively. The far-right Confederation (Konfederacja), which is critical of both PiS and PO, is also on 10%.

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Main image credit: Platforma Obywatelska/Twitter

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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