Law & Justice won 37.7 percent of the vote and a projected 232 seats in the 460-member lower chamber, the first time that a single group will command a majority since the re-introduction of democracy in Poland in 1989, according to a revised Ipsos exit poll. The ruling Civic Platform, which oversaw a 24 percent expansion of Poland’s economy over its eight years in power, came second with 23.6 percent and 137 seats. Three other parties cleared the threshold for representation.
The rise of Law & Justice marks the newest challenge for a European Union that’s more divided than at any time since former communist states joined in 2004. While Poland’s currency, stocks and bonds have underperformed emerging-market peers amid investor concern that the opposition will hurt banks’ profits or spend too much, analysts at banks including UniCredit SpA and PKO Bank Polski SA expect markets to rebound following the vote. Standard & Poor’s, which hasn’t changed Poland’s debt rating since 2007, said it may cut its outlook to stable if fiscal and monetary policies were reversed. […]
Showdown over climate change
One potential sticking point between an eventual PiS government and Berlin is climate policy. Germany has been at the forefront of tougher EU climate policies, but Lipiński said Poland under PiS would “do everything it can to reverse the current policy because they believe coal remains Poland’s energy future.”
Poland has huge coal reserves and depends on it for roughly 90 percent of its electricity needs. Waszczykowski said the current government made a “big mistake” last year by accepting an EU-wide target calling for a 40 percent emissions cut by 2030 because Poland needs “more time” to reach this target.
PiS suggests it would want to negotiate opt-outs from EU rules on carbon emission reductions, and says the crucial role of coal for Poland’s economy deserves “special treatment.” Such a move would likely prove contentious with Berlin.
Poland’s New Government Favours Non-Binding UN Climate Deal
Poland’s conservative opposition Law and Justice party (PiS) is hoping that a United Nations’ climate deal later this year will be non-binding, which could enable it to renegotiate current European Union emissions laws.
Nearly 200 countries meet in Paris from Nov. 30 to thrash out a U.N. accord to cut greenhouse gas emissions from 2020.
PiS looks poised to win a parliamentary election on Oct. 25. The party, in alliance with two smaller conservative parties, has a lead over the ruling Civic Platform, opinion polls show.
Poland has long argued for special dispensation under EU emissions rules because it generates its electricity mainly from highly polluting coal. This will not change if PiS wins elections in October, a member of the party told Reuters.
“Any binding stance that would be accepted at the conference in Paris will be harmful to Poland, so a failure of the summit is in Poland’s interest,” parliamentarian Piotr Naimski said.
“If there is no agreement at the global level, there will be no reason for the current EU regulations on CO2 emission reductions to be maintained. This should mean that they will renegotiable,” Naimski said.
Expected Polish Election Winner Urges EU Climate Deal Renegotiation
The likely winner of Poland’s Oct. 25 parliamentary election called on Tuesday for a renegotiation of a climate deal agreed last year by the European Union, saying the country needed more coal-based power stations.
The European Union agreed last year, after marathon negotiations, to cut greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2030, pitting heavy industry against green business.
The emissions goal is also the basis of the EU position for the Paris climate change talks that start on Nov. 30. There is still some scope for discussion on how to achieve the emissions goal, but Poland is likely to meet stiff resistance from its EU partners if it attempts to reopen the climate deal.
Poland, whose economy depends on highly polluting coal, has long opposed EU initiatives to curb carbon emissions, but the conservative main opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party, tipped to win the election, says it will take a much tougher stance if it gains power.
“The demand for electricity, if our economy develops fast, should increase at double the pace, so there should be many more power plants,” PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said at a televised briefing in the town of Konin, home to a lignite coal-fuelled power station owned by ZE PAK.
“We have to fight for this in the European Union. As to the climate package renegotiation is needed. We should not have agreed to that, it could have been vetoed,” Kaczynski said.
Poland’s New Government May Opt-Out Of EU Decarbonisation Policy
Poland’s leading opposition party is seeking to negotiate exemptions from the European Union’s rules on reducing carbon emissions because the nation’s energy security and economic development depends on coal.
Law & Justice, which opinion polls show winning October’s general election, has vowed to toughen Poland’s stance on climate issues to protect the nation’s $526 billion economy, which relies on coal for about 90 percent of its electricity. While the current government has been critical of EU emissions goals, it didn’t veto last year’s move toward stricter curbs on discharging heat-trapping carbon dioxide.
“The strategy that we’re planning for the economy rejects the dogma of de-carbonization,” Piotr Naimski, in charge of energy policy at Law & Justice, said in an interview last week. “The role of coal in Poland’s economy fully deserves to receive special treatment.”
Poland will negotiate hard to win “respect” from EU partners for its stance on coal, which Naimski said mirrors the special exceptions, or “opt-outs,” from the bloc’s rules won by a number of other member nations. The country treats development of its coal deposits as a keystone of its energy security in a region dependent on Russian oil and gas imports.
“Nobody is thinking of leaving the EU, but there is an idea to again look at Poland’s unique situation,” he said.