Polish PM spills beans on ruling coalition frictions

Mateusz Marek/PAP

Poland’s prime minister has admitted that friction developed between Law and Justice, the dominant force in Poland’s United Right governing coalition, and its two junior allies over planned large-scale economic and healthcare reforms.

On Saturday, the United Right unveiled a new reform programme, dubbed the New Deal, which aims to reform the Polish healthcare system, support families and low-earners, launch a large-scale housing programme, foster energy transition and reduce pollution.

Although the details of the programme have not been disclosed, critics already warn that the changes could increase the fiscal burden on Poland's budding middle class and entrepreneurs.

In the New Deal, healthcare fund contributions will no longer be tax-deductible, but instead the tax-free allowance will be raised nearly tenfold, but the latter change is unlikely to offset the increased tax for people earning above the official average wage.

In an interview for the Wprost weekly magazine, Mateusz Morawiecki said that Law and Justice's more liberal ally, the Agreement Party, had blocked any additional fiscal changes.

"We were thinking about other changes to the taxes, but Agreement would not allow that," the prime minister said.

"In the case of the other coalition partner (the nationalist Solidary Poland - PAP), we're debating our stance on the pace of changes to the energy policy," Morawiecki added.

Solidary Poland is led by Zbigniew Ziobro, the justice minister and prosecutor general, who is apparently at odds with the prime minister when it comes to Morawiecki's cooperation with the EU.

Ziobro and his party failed to back Law and Justice in the ratification of an EU post-pandemic recovery fund, warning it would strip Poland of its sovereignty. Owing to this, the United Right had to strike an unprecedented deal with one of its opponents, the Left, to get the legislation passed.

The arguments with Ziobro have prompted speculation in Poland that the United Right could collapse; an act that could prompt early elections or the formation of a minority Law and Justice government.

In his magazine interview, Morawiecki also criticised the performance of Ziobro's ministry.

"The Polish justice system is still ineffective, not computerised, not digitalised," the prime minister said. "Court cases are moving at a snail's pace, and many judgements are made contra legem (against the law)," he continued.

Admitting that there are people in Solidary Poland "who have good ideas and the will to carry out reforms," Morawiecki argued that there are also "a group of people, who are purposely delaying the necessary changes."