Poland’s ruling party leader promises voters more benefits ahead of fall election

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The leader of Poland’s conservative ruling party on Sunday promised voters a range of new benefits, including a large increase in cash benefit for families with children.

Poland is due to hold a parliamentary election this fall. A date has not been set yet, but the vote is expected to be in October or early November at the latest.

Law and Justice party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said at a party convention that he intends to raise the 500 zlotys ($120) that parents receive monthly for each child under 18 to 800 zlotys ($192) starting in January.

Kaczynski also said Law and Justice would provide free medicine for people age 65 and above and for young people until the age of 18. He also said he seeks do away with tolls for passenger cars on state highways as soon as possible, and on private motorways in the future.

The party has governed Poland for eight years, and spending on social benefits has helped boost its popularity.

Some Poles, including some economists and members of the business community, oppose the large benefits, saying they are a factor behind dramatic cost-of-living increases. Inflation rose to over 18% this year but has fallen slightly since.

Recent opinion polls indicate that Law and Justice is more popular than any other party but would not be able to win enough votes to govern alone.