A breakout of disunity in the ruling majority’s ranks

Deputy PM Jarosław Gowin and Enterprise Minister Jadwiga Emilewicz voice disquiet about latest government policy on incomes.

The election campaign of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) has been hit by comments made by two senior government members. Both of them come from the small “Agreement” party which is allied to the ruling PiS and has stood with it on joint election slates since 2014.

The “Agreement” party was founded by Jarosław Gowin in 2013. It originally stood for election on its own in the European elections in 2014 as a liberal-conservative force pitching for votes of the centre-right. Later that year it formed a close alliance with PiS which has seen it have MPs elected on PiS election lists and posts in the government.

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The “Agreement” party has been pressing for policies to help small and medium enterprises. It looks as if it is not entirely happy with the PiS policy of a sharp hike in the minimum wage that was announced at the weekend.

Enterprise Minister Jadwiga Emilewicz, who is deputy leader of the “Agreement” party said in a TV interview on Tuesday that she had not been consulted about the proposal to increase the minimum pay to 4000 PLN (900 EUR) by 2024. She was echoing concerns expressed by the business community about the impact of that policy on small companies. Her comments caused irritation within PiS, sources claim.

Is 8000 PLN (almost 2000 Euro) low pay?

But Deputy PM Jarosław Gowin’s comments made in a radio interview on Tuesday caused more consternation on the government side. Commenting on the government’s proposal to lift the ceiling on social security payments he distanced himself and his party from the measure and said he and his colleagues would question whether it really was required to balance the state budget. He also said that earning 8000 PLN net was not a high salary in big cities like Warsaw.

This comment has concerned PiS politicians because in rural and small town areas 8000 PLN net is regarded as a very high salary, so this comment would irritate such voters and make them think PiS as a whole was out of touch. The disagreement also undermines message clarity over a key plank of the ruling party’s election programme.

“Agreement” to have its wings clipped?

Sources close to the ruling party leader Jarosław Kaczyński have signalled his irritation with the actions of both Mr Gowin and Ms Emilewicz. However, the same sources, point out that the “Agreement” party is unlikely to have very many MPs elected, thanks to the way the electoral slates have been constructed by Mr Kaczyński.

Jarosław Kaczyński, interviewed by public radio on Wednesday, said that although the ruling party would discuss the measure with employers increasing the minimum wage was a key PiS policy that aimed at ensuring that no longer would Poland be just a reservoir of cheap labour. He also revealed that he had consulted the head of the National Bank of Poland Adam Glapiński who told him that raising the minimum wage would not have any negative consequences for the economy and its continued growth.