- Title: Poland's ruling right-wing party banks on child subsidy to win election
- Date: 7th October 2019
- Summary: WARSAW, POLAND (SEPTEMBER 9, 2019) (REUTERS) ECONOMIST AT THE STEFAN BATORY FOUNDATION, PAWEL MARCZEWSKI, TALKING TO JOURNALIST SIGN READING (Polish): "BATORY FOUNDATION" (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) ECONOMIST AT THE STEFAN BATORY FOUNDATION, PAWEL MARCZEWSKI, SAYING: "In the beginning (of the 500+ programme) the reduction of the level of poverty was significant. The proverbial "first vacations on the Polish seaside" which were paid for with the money from 500+ programme - this is something one cannot downplay. It is important and it was, in fact, a pleasant surprise for many people â€¦ another group of people who support them (PiS) are those who think the programme and the policy of the government fit into their identity and their views on what the family should look like. Suddenly, they feel at home in their country, something they may not have felt in the past, or they felt they were being treated unfairly. There is a dignity factor here." FORMER FINANCE MINISTER AND COORDINATOR OF TRANSITION TO A MARKET ECONOMY IN POLAND, LESZEK BALCEROWICZ, SPEAKING TO REPORTER (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER POLISH FINANCE MINISTER, LESZEK BALCEROWICZ, SAYING: "The problem is that with the extra spending (on 500+) which was financed largely by Poland's economy booming due to external sources, we have much less room to manoeuvre for other important purposes." NOWA KARCZMA, POLAND (SEPTEMBER 11, 2019) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN LEAVING SCHOOL VARIOUS OF CHILDREN QUEUING FOR SCHOOL BUS CHILDREN SITTING IN SCHOOL BUS BENEFICIARY OF 500+ PROGRAMME AND BAKERY OWNER, KATARZYNA ICHNOWSKA WALKING OUT OF SCHOOL WITH HER TWO SONS 5-YEAR-OLD FELIKS AND 3-YEAR-OLD TEOFIL ICHNOWSKA WALKING WITH FELIKS AND TEOFIL TEOFIL AND ICHNOWSKA WALKING UPSTAIRS (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) BENEFICIARY OF 500+ PROGRAMME AND BAKERY OWNER, KATARZYNA ICHNOWSKA, SAYING: "Frankly speaking, until now we haven't had a single programme that has met the needs of the family. I am not completely for or against the 500+ programme, but maybe it should be done based on different principles because it is not really fair. But it was the first move ever towards the family." VARIOUS OF ICHNOWSKA CHOPPING VEGETABLES (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) BENEFICIARY OF 500+ PROGRAMME AND BAKERY OWNER, KATARZYNA ICHNOWSKA, SAYING: "I have no illusions. On one hand, it is good that we protect poor people and families. But you know, I run my own business and when I hear that starting from January, social insurance contributions that I have to pay for my employees will rise by 350 zlotys, this automatically cancels the 1500 zlotys I get (for her three children)." VARIOUS OF TEOFIL PUTTING ON SHOES TEOFIL JOINING HIS BROTHERS AND JUMPING ON TRAMPOLINE ICHNOWSKA'S SONS JUMPING ON TRAMPOLINE VARIOUS OF ICHNOWSKA HANGING LAUNDRY CHILDREN WALKING DOWN STREET VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING OUT OF SUPERMARKET CAR DRIVING BY ROAD SIGN READING (Polish): "NOWA KARCZMA"
- Embargoed: 21st October 2019 09:35
- Keywords: Polish election 500+ programme social benefits Law and Justice Leszek Balcerowicz Polish economy
- Location: NOWA KARCZMA, BYDGOSZCZ AND WARSAW, POLAND
- City: NOWA KARCZMA, BYDGOSZCZ AND WARSAW, POLAND
- Country: Poland
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA003B03LSUF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Pushing her infant son in a pram, 26-year-old Karolina Burczyk from Nowa Karczma in northern Poland is one of the latest beneficiaries of a child subsidy programme sponsored by the country's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.
Born and raised in the northern region of Kashuby, Burczyk says the local community appreciates the government's pro-family stance and the various social benefits they offer.
In return for the sense of financial security that comes with the programme dubbed '500+', Burczyk says she will vote for PiS in general elections on Oct. 13, something she did not do in 2015.
Burczyk, who puts the cash she receives into a savings account for her six month-old son Leon, said that the programme reels in prospective voters as they are grateful for the handout.
Her hometown, which lies less than an hour from liberal stronghold Gdansk, voted for the opposition party Civic Platform in the 2015 general election, but PiS won 54% of votes in the European Parliament election in May.
PiS says 500+, which awards 500 zlotys ($126 approx) a month per child and has cost more than 70 billion zlotys so far, aims to correct economic injustice caused by liberal governments since the collapse of communism in 1989.
The subsidy, which is not means-tested and not indexed to inflation, is seen by PiS as vital to its appeal to working-class voters.
Promises to introduce the subsidy helped PiS return to power in 2015, when it's socially conservative and nationalist agenda tapped into public frustration with Western liberal values.
Critics say the policy exposes Poland's public finances to finances to too much risk and removes the incentive for some women to work.
Katarzyna Ichnowska, the owner of a bakery in Nowa Karczma and a mother of three boys, said while she did not feel strongly for or against 500+ there had been no programme responding to the needs of Polish families before.
But she said the additional 1500 zlotys each month was likely to be cancelled out by rises in social insurance contributions for her employees that she expects to begin paying at the start of 2020.
Leszek Balcerowicz, a former finance minister who coordinated Poland's transition to a market economy after decades of communist rule, told Reuters that with the extra spending on 500+ programme there was less "room for manoeuvre" for other important purposes.
Pollsters say 500+ has contributed to a big lead for the PiS in opinion polls.
A comfortable election victory would give PiS a mandate to further reshape Poland in its conservative image. A close race could force it to rein in some of its ambitions and make it harder to stand up to EU pressure over the rule of law.
(Production: Malgorzata Wojtunik)
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