Political Risk Analysis - Change In PM Does Not Signal Policy Shift - 18 DEC 2017

BMI View: We do not expect to see a shift in government policy following the resignation of Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle. Her successor Mateusz Morawiecki is likely to continue the governing Law and Justice Party's generous welfare handouts, support for traditional Catholic values, and consolidation of power within the country's institutions, with party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski continuing to pull the reins from behind the scenes.

On the evening of December 7, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo resigned from office ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle in early 2018. On December 7, a vote of no confidence in Szydlo and her Law and Justice (PiS) party government was defeated by a wide margin of 239-168 with 17 abstentions. However, this did not prove enough for the PM to retain her position. While the government as a whole remains very popular among large sections of the electorate, Szydlo was supposedly not seen by powerful party chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski as the person best equipped to take the PiS into the next few years, with local elections due in 2018, parliamentary elections in 2019, and the presidential election in 2020. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development and Finance Mateusz Morawiecki took office following Szydlo's resignation.

Following the change in the country's leadership, we do not expect it to result in a notable shift in government policy. The PiS' generous welfare payments, combative stance towards the EU, and support for traditional Catholic values in public life have proven popular with much of the electorate. Opinion polling shows the populist PiS expanding its lead over the main opposition centre-right Civic Platform (PO), with the gap in support reaching a massive 15-20% in November and December 2017 polls. As the country's policy environment has shifted further towards populism and nationalism, those parties in the centre ground have seen their support waning. The PO's support has fallen from around 25% in Q217 to around 17% in December 2017, while the pro-EU liberal .Modern (.N) has seen its support fall from 20% at the start of the year to around 7% by the end of 2017. With centrist, pro-EU parties unable to retain support, in comparison to the PiS and the right-wing Kukiz '15 party, we would not expect the government to deviate from its current policy path.

PiS Extending Lead Did Little To Help Szydlo
Poland - Opinion Polling, 12-poll moving average, %
Source: Pollster, IBRiS, CBOS, Millward Brown, TNS Poland, Dobra Opinia, Kantar Public

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