17 września 2011

O wyborach w Polsce dla brukselskiego biura Fundacji Boella

What are the main points of the Greens’ election programme?

Our electoral programme consists of three parts: Green Economy, Happy Society and a Just World. We will be focusing our efforts on showing that there is no conflict between ecology and social and economical development, as the mainstream political parties try to tell people. We will give examples of how renewable energy, public transport, energy efficiency in housing, investing in public services such as healthcare and education create new jobs and a better social output. The coming years will be crucial for a number of ecological and social issues – the fight between atomic and shale gas exploitation on the one hand and energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy on the other, between more highways and more railways, between more commercialisation of health care or more investment in a public system – these are important dilemmas, crucial for answering the question how Poland will look like in 5-10 years time.

The answers the Greens have for these questions ore obvious – it's sad to see that for other political parties they are less obvious. PO, in one of its strategic documents, prepared by minister Michał Boni, „Poland 2030“, created the idea of a „polarisation and diffusion“ way of development, where most of the public and European money is diverted into strengthening just a few „centres of development“ from which prosperity will pour into the rest of the country. These are just other words for an old „trickle-down theory” which the Greens oppose. PiS even talks about sustainable development, but it understands it not as finding an equilibrium between ecological, social and economical matters, but merely as a more even distribution of investments between different regions of Poland. Both parties are also conservative in issues such as abortion or gay rights, in which we have an ally in the SLD. Just recently about 1/3 of the MP's of the ruling PO voted to continue with a draft-bill that would totally ban abortion in Poland. This shows the true face of a so-called more “European“ right-wing party.

Ecological topics will, of course, play an important role in our campaign – the debate over the situation of the Polish railway system will be one of the most interesting topics to be watched. Together with the SLD we call for a change of the current, scandalous proportions between investments in roads and railway lines from the current 85:15 to a truly European standard 60:40. It is impossible for the public rail operators to provide a good service with such limited resources. Remember that after 1989, about ¼ of the railway lines went out of service and until just recently there have been no new investments. With trains needing more time to go from one city to another because of the degradation of the railway line quality, this will certainly be a hot issue.

Two social problems are also emerging in the political debate. The first is a problem with the availability of pre-school education. Parents are paying more and more to have their children looked after – this is partly a result of the lowering of income taxes, which burned a hole in the budgets of local authorities that are responsible for delivering pre-school education services causing them to raise the costs for the parents. We propose more state funding for this important service, allocating the same amount of money that is used to fund higher levels of education.

The second problem is the increasingly precarious Polish labour market, in which it is more and more difficult, especially for younger people, to find proper jobs. The percentage of people hired in junk jobs in Poland is currently higher than in Spain! The unemployment rate in the younger part of the workforce is hovering between 20 and 25%. The reasons for this situation are – in our opinion – fiscal incentive, promoting non-permanent job contracts. We support the idea of creating an equal level of social contributions from every type of job contracts to minimise this phenomenon. It would bring more social security such as access to free healthcare for people working in precarious jobs and in the long run – with the development of an ecological tax reform and shifting taxation from labour to pollution and capital – it would make room for lowering the level of social security contributions and, possibly, changes in the taxation of companies i.e. making bigger corporations pay more than their current 19% and small and medium companies, which are the backbone of the Polish economy, less.

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