Friday, January 13, 2012

Tit for tat

Poland's ruling coalitions fight and stab and bicker and cat-fight and tussle and pull hair and kick at each other. The lack of this truculence made the Civic Platform (PO)-Polish Peasants' Party (PSL) ruling coalition in 2007-2011 so strange. But let bygones be. The fights are back.

The PSL was the first to take off the gloves. Prime Minister Donald Tusk presented the new PO-PSL government's often prickly fiscal and economic reform plan in mid-November. Problem is, the prime minister doesn't seem to have consulted the PSL.

The PSL has since the speech opposed seemingly all of it. The PO wants to raise the retirement age to 67 for men from 65 and for women from 60. The PSL calls this barbaric. It instead wants women to be able to subtract three years for each child birthed from the statutory retirement age. If you have 10 kids, technically you could retire at 37…just to be clear, the PSL is mum on the level of retirement benefit.

The PSL doesn't want soldiers, police officers and the like to lose the ability to retire after 15 years of service (I once met a 40-year-old pensioner, though he was working). The PO wants a minimum of 25 years and a minimum age of 55.

The PSL doesn't want farmers to pay much in health-care contribution. The PSL didn't want the amount employers pay for a workers' contribution for disability payments to be raised. It is skeptical of capping local government deficits, tighter EU integration and Poland lending 6 billion euros to the IMF.

PM Tusk has found the PSL's conduct infuriating. In late December, he even said that if the PSL didn't back the reform plan, it was hard to talk about a future for the coalition.

But Tusk might have the last laugh. The PSL violated the electoral code for an infraction in the 2001 elections. It was ordered to pay 20 million zloty, including 9 million for the actual violation and 11 million in interest. Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski was able to forgive the repayment of the interest. Surprise, surprise, he ordered earlier this week the full amount to be repaid.

Your move PSL.

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