With Poland’s general election now less than a month away, the country’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has announced another package of proposals, with big changes promised to social spending, journalism laws and the prosecution of parliamentarians .
The leader of the party, Jarosław Kaczyński, said that the new policies would bring results.
“They combine effort in the social sphere with the mastering of public finances,” he said.
If the party gains a majority in the new parliament – as all opinion polls suggest it will – PiS proposes to remove much of the immunity from prosecution that MPs and senators current enjoy. The party proposes to amend the constitution in such a way that a deputy or senator will be able to be held criminally responsible, as well as detained or arrested, by a decision taken at the request of the attorney general, directed to the supreme court.
This has proven to be a controversial proposal, as it would allow an MP to be arrested at the request of the attorney general, who is also the minister of justice in the the ruling party’s cabinet. As the law currently stands, an MP can only be held criminally responsible if parliaments votes to remove immunity.
Critics believe that placing the decision in the hands of one minister eliminates certain checks and balances. However, others view it as a way to eliminate unnecessary time-consuming procedures, and argue that there is a fail-safe. This arises if the attorney general’s motives are unclear, in which case the ombudsman can intervene.
The new policies also feature changes to journalism laws, due to what the party calls “the responsibility and special trust enjoyed by the journalist profession”.
PiS wants to create a completely separate law regulating the status of the journalists, similar to other professions of public trust such as lawyers and doctors. The party maintains that this “will not limit the principle of openness of the journalistic profession in any way.”
These announcements follow a series of proposed laws including raising the minimum wage, as well as increasing handouts to pensioners, and tax reductions for young people. This is all part of the party’s proposed ‘welfare state’ model, in which social spending has been placed front and centre.
The party also wants to strengthen Poland’s security by ramping up spending on the military.
PiS currently leads the Civic Opposition group by almost 20 points in opinion polls ahead of the October 13 election.