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POLAND: PiS December Convention

On Saturday, the ruling party held its convention, which was predominantly organised to summarise the party’s 3 years in power. Following the local elections, it was also important to boost morale – reinforcing the party’s key messages ahead of the election campaign that will ensue in early 2019. The speakers included party leader Jarosław Kaczyński, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Deputy Prime Minister Beata Szydło, as well as the leaders of coalition parties Jarosław Gowin and Zbigniew Ziobro.

Kaczyński and Morawiecki broadly explained the political direction in which the party and the government are heading. While the PM concentrated on stressing the importance of strengthening the Polish middle class, Jasrosław Gowin spoke in length about enhancing innovation and simplifying taxes. The new Energia plus programme was announced by Gowin, but no details were provided – in cooperation with research institutions it will commence the mass facilitation of small local renewable energy installations for SMEs and households. Zbigniew Ziobro traditionally focused his speech on further improvements of court proceedings and a bill against dishonest usurers. Still, the “Poland the heart of Europe” slogan dominated the convention with Morawiecki, Kaczyński and Szydło all referring to Poland as an integral member of the EU.

Experts argue that the reason for this turn to the EU is the fact the PiS leadership considers accusations of Polexit as one of the biggest fears of the common Pole. In larger agglomerations, PiS is viewed as an anti-EU party – this became clear in the recent local elections. Ahead of the EU elections, this is a bid to alter the party’s perception. Commentators generally agree that this convention may be considered the unofficial beginning of PiS’ European Parliament election campaign. At the same time, PiS speakers failed to refer to any ongoing issues – including, the rule of law proceedings in the EU or the KNF scandal. Members of the opposition underlined that no new programmes or policies were mentioned in detail.