Marcin KULCZYK, PhD, Research Fellow at the ECLJ, gives an analysis on the current Polish Family policy.
He wrote a report on these programs for the ECLJ:
The last parliamentary elections in Poland, held on October 25th 2015, have deeply changed the political climate. For the first time since 1989, one election committee1 obtained an absolute majority in Parliament clearing the way for the largest opposition party, Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość), to form a one-party government. This occurred just few months after the victory of its candidate Andrzej Duda in the presidential election on May 24th. It is also the first time since the fall of communism that the left-wing party failed to gain any representation in the Parliament. After eight years in office of the governing coalition formed by Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) and Polish People’s Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe), a new political landscape has been drawn, allowing a number of possible changes inspired by the Catholic social teaching, particularly in favor of strengthening family rights and in the field of human life protection. Nowadays, the situation is dynamic. The new government conducted by Beata Szydło tries to realize the most important promises announced in the election campaign, however the opposition criticizes the quick changes. The political climate is tense because of the Constitutional Tribunal (Trybunał Konstytucyjny) crisis, which began with the amending of Constitutional Tribunal Act in June 2015, and with the appointment of five new judges by the Civic Platform instead of three whose nine-year terms had to expire before the election in October 2015. The dispute concerns the composition of the Constitutional Tribunal, the nonpublication of decisions rendered by the Constitutional Tribunal, as well as the review of the law on the Constitutional Tribunal and its impact on the effectiveness of constitutional review of new legislation. Due to numerous political and legal controversies of that conflict, it will not analyse it in this report. However, it is important to stress that despite the opposition’s criticism, the current Polish government is strongly supported by the public. In August 2016, Law and Justice remains the leader in the ranking, with the support of 41% of favorable opinion.2 It seems that the most important reason for that support of the governing party is its family policy. “Poles appreciate especially the fulfilment of electoral promises, such as the Family 500+ program started in April 2016, which provides financial support for families with children in order to increase the number of childbirths.”3 Indeed, Poland has one of the lowest Total Fertility Rates (TFR) in the world and is facing to depopulation, which could have a negative influence on the economy in the coming decades. The need of a comprehensive family policy in the situation of deep demographic crisis was emphasized by numerous non-government organizations, as well as a better protection of the constitutional values relating to marriage being a union of a man and a woman, family, motherhood and parenthood (art. 18 and art. 71 of the Polish Constitution). This report aims to give an objective picture and the reasons for the new family policy in Poland.