Plan for policy unpredictability as elections approach and slower growth in 2024
Ahead of the Polish elections expected in October 2023, the most probable outcome will see the governing PIS party form a coalition with the far-right Konfederacja coalition, as a single-party majority looks increasingly unlikely. MNCs are likely to experience further political unpredictability in the runup to elections as the PIS government pursues polarizing strategies in its “all or nothing” approach.
A PIS-Konfederacja coalition will place strain on future investment amid rule-of-law concerns that have led to the EU withholding the EUR 35 billion Covid Recovery Fund until the concerns are remedied. B2Gs should watch this process closely, because with the funding set to expire at the end of 2023, the risks to the base case are elevated.
- The ruling PIS party is unlikely to solely meet the majority of at least 40% required to form government, as vote share falls to 35%, down from 43% in the 2019 election.
- The main opposition party, the Civic Coalition, has gained traction and is only 5% behind, with 30% of the vote, up from a low of 16% in 2021.
- The far-right Konfederacja is likely to become a kingmaker, having quickly grown to 12% of the vote from 7% in January 2023.
- The EU Commission is suing Poland over its Russian Influence Law, which would enable political opponents to be removed from public office, sparking international concerns over democracy.
- The rural vote, accounting for 40% of the population and seen as key to the 2023 election, will likely place increased pressure on the PIS to enact protectionist measures on agricultural goods to win over agrarian communities. One such concern involves Ukrainian grain, which has flooded local Polish markets by as much as 16-fold, depressing local produce prices by up to 40%.
FrontierView expects the PIS party to narrowly win the election, but it will need a coalition partner to secure a majority. The far-right Konfederacja group is the PIS’s only realistic option, having grown to become the third most popular party. The only other options likely to exceed the 8% minimum required for coalition groups to enter parliament are Third Way and Lewica, both of which are ideologically incompatible with PIS.
Support for Civic Coalition (KO) , the main opposition to PIS, has steadily grown amid protests over the PIS’s increasingly conservative and illiberal policy implementation, such as the widely unpopular September 2020 act that effectively criminalized abortion and led to the PIS’s vote share falling from 44% to 33% in a single month. Recent Civic Coalition growth in the vote share is largely due to disdain for the Russian Influence Law passed in May 2023, which saw an opposition march of 500,000 protesters, led by Civic Coalition leader Donald Tusk, take to the streets of Warsaw, criticizing the integrity of the upcoming elections amid concerns of political intimidation.
This was the latest development in a rule-of-law spat with the EU dating back to 2015, which intensified in 2021 as the EU blocked payment of the EUR 35 billion Covid Recovery Fund earmarked for Poland. With a December 2023 deadline to access the funds quickly approaching, the outlook for unlocking funding looks bleak, with the EU commission suing Poland for these new breaches of the rule of law. This will place significant strain on Poland’s midterm outlook, with a muted investment landscape likely into 2025. MNCs should monitor progress of these negotiations closely.
The 2023 government budget is facing challenges, with increases to social spending via a 60% rise in monthly child benefit payments and generous mortgage subsidies. The budget deficit in June was revised upward by 35%, bringing the 2023 deficit from the planned 4.5% of GDP to 6.1% of GDP. This comes despite sustained inflationary pressure, which was down from the 18.4% YOY CPI growth in February 2023 but remains elevated at 13% YOY in May 2023, and it is expected to remain elevated well above its target of 2.5% into 2024.
Considering these factors, a PIS coalition with Konfederacja, which aims to lower fiscal spending, may dampen the outlook for 2024. MNCs should as such plan for slower growth, as funding difficulties will place a cap on growth into 2025.
At FrontierView, our mission is to help our clients grow and win in their most important markets. We are excited to share that FiscalNote, a leading technology provider of global policy and market intelligence has acquired FrontierView. We will continue to cover issues and topics driving growth in your business, while fully leveraging FiscalNote’s portfolio within the global risk, ESG, and geopolitical advisory product suite.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter The Lens published by our Global Economics and Scenarios team which highlights high-impact developments and trends for business professionals. For full access to our offerings, start your free trial today and download our complimentary mobile app, available on iOS and Android.