Poland politics

By Marcin Piatkowski and Natasha Kapil, World Bank

Poland is Europe’s growth champion. It has more than doubled its GDP per capita since the beginning of the post-socialist transition in 1989, consistently growing since 1992, and was the only EU economy to avoid a recession in 2009. Poland is a prime example of the success of the European “convergence machine”.

In 2014, the level of income adjusted for purchasing parity exceeded $24,000 and reached almost 65 per cent of the level of income in the euro zone, the highest absolute and relative level since 1500 A.D. Read more

Poland’s parliament may have rushed through a dramatic change to the country’s pension system in only four days last week, but the revamped pension scheme still faces possible legal and constitutional challenges.

Poland became just the latest CEE country to take an axe to a pension system that became popular across the region a decade ago, but is being revamped or rejected because running costs have turned out to be significantly higher than predicted. Read more

If Poland had a public face over the last six years, it was that of Jacek Rostowski, the occasionally acerbic British-born finance minister who helped pilot Poland through two waves of economic crisis.

All change as of Wednesday, following the cabinet reshuffle by premier Donald Tusk which sees 62-year-old Rostowski replaced by 38-year-old Mateusz Szczurek (pictured), CEE economist for ING Bank of the Netherlands. Read more

How do we pay for her?

Poland plans to reduce the role private pension funds play in the country’s hybrid pension system in order to reduce public debt as it battles an economic slowdown.

Polish stocks on the main WIG20 index rebounded from a 10-month low after the opening of trading on Wednesday once the market realised the government was not intendig to nationalise pension fund assets, the biggest investor in the local equity market. Read more

Polish banks’ earnings are set to take a hit next year after the lower house of parliament approved a new quasi tax, which could take away up to 8 per cent of the sector’s earnings.

MPs voted on Friday to approve aproposal to create a stabilization fund that will be used to bailout banks threatened with insolvency. The fund will be managed by the Bank Guarantee Fund (BGF), which was set up in February 1995 to guarantee bank deposits and prevent banks from going under. Read more

Poland and the Czech Republic seem to be heading in different directions over the euro.

The Czech Republic has long been one of the region’s greatest sceptics on joining the common currency, preferring to hang on to the koruna and enjoy a reputation for fiscal and monetary probity at least equal to that of the EU and the European Central Bank.

Czech governments have for years refused to set a firm date for entry. But now Milos Zeman, the country’s new centre-left president, said in a German press interview that his country could be in the euro by 2018 – a marked departure from the eurosceptic views of his predecessor Vaclav Klaus, who famously even refused to fly the EU’s blue banner over his residence. Read more

Poland’s justice minister seems to have been an overly avid fan of the classic thriller The Boys From Brazil, a book in which twisted German scientists play with genetics in a bid to clone Adolf Hitler.

Jaroslaw Gowin is accusing German labs of buying frozen Polish embryos for research purposes – an accusation that seems to be unfounded in fact, which German researchers deny, and which has made the conservative minister a target of the growing ire of premier Donald Tusk. Read more

Poland’s treasury minister got the chop on Friday from a furious premier Donald Tusk, who was enraged that he had not been informed about negotiations with the Russians over a possible expansion of a natural gas pipeline running across Polish territory.

The talks were held between the Russians and Polish state-controlled gas and pipeline operators and, according to Tusk, did not violate Poland’s national security. However, Tusk was wrong-footed earlier this month when word leaked out that a preliminary agreement had been signed with the Russians without his knowledge. Read more

Poland reacted frostily to an surprise announcement on Friday by Russia’s Gazprom that it had signed a preliminary agreement to build a new gas pipeline across Polish territory, saying it had no desire to increase its dependence on Russian energy.

“Strategically speaking, we do not want to expand the pool of Russian gas,” premier Donald Tusk said on Friday. Back to you, Gazprom! Read more

It’s onwards and upwards for Poland’s finance minister Jacek Rostowski. Prime minister Donald Tusk on Wednesday promoted the London-trained economist to deputy prime minister.

The move came amid a broader government reshuffle which saw Tusk appoint a new chief of staff and a new interior minister. Tusk said the changes reflected his government’s priorities, whatever that may mean. More likely, he wanted to show he was responding to recent signs of decline in his once-high popularity rankings. Read more

The Polish government’s junior coalition partner unexpectedly changed its leader over the weekend, resulting in a visibly outraged Waldemar Pawlak on Monday quitting as deputy prime minister and economy minister. However, stocks and the zloty were both strongly up – a sign that politics are not having much of an impact on positive perceptions of the economy, at least for now. Read more

The debacle at Warsaw’s National stadium – where a Poland-England match had to be scrubbed on Tuesday night because the brand new ground failed to close its roof despite a deluge of rain – tested the talents of Polish and English Facebook and Twitter jokers.

The most popular photo shared online seemed to be a black-and-white one of men in flippers trying to kick a ball, but the football fiasco points to a deeper problem with Polish infrastructure. Read more

Jacek Rostowski, Polish finance minister, Sept 2011Poland’s opposition parties look at the country’s slowing growth and see a possible opening for attacking the government of Donald Tusk, in power since 2007 – as attested by a large street protest in Warsaw over the weekend which drew about 50,000.

But the window for such criticism may be small, if the slowdown proves to be short-lived – at least that’s the word from Jacek Rostowski, the finance minister. Speaking to beyondbrics earlier this week, Rostowski predicts that the economy could return to more robust growth by late 2013. Read more

As Poland hosts the European football championships, many visiting fans are discovering the changing character of the former communist country for the first time. It’s clear that Poland is a country in full expansion mode, catching up with its western neighbours.

But when the cameras turn away, and the Polish return to their daily lives, how much of the progress and enthusiasm will be left? The FT takes a look on Thursday in a special reportRead more

Herbert Wirth helped turn Poland’s KGHM copper miner into a global force thanks to the recent acquisition of Canada’s Quadra FMX – but will that be enough for him to retain his job?

Wirth’s term as head of the company is expiring and his running to keep his job but faces stiff competition thanks to the growing prominence of KGHM. He will be hoping that the treasury ministry-dominated board will remember the FMX deal when it votes on naming a new CEO this June. Read more

Central European countries are taking advantage of the recent turn in sentiment towards emerging markets to lock in financing needs for this year and get a head start on 2012, when market conditions are expected to be worse.

Last week Poland offered $2bn in 10-year bonds priced at 280 basis points above the USD benchmark, attracting $8bn in total demand. Read more

Poland doesn’t have an amusement park worthy of the name – but the stomach-dropping thrills of roller coasters can easily be replicated, first in the wild fluctuations of the zloty against the euro, dollar and Swiss franc, and now in the huge variability of opinion polls just days before Sunday’s parliamentary election.

The election is turning out to be more difficult than expected for the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party of premier Donald Tusk, which is battling the nationalists of the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party. Read more