WARSAW, Poland – Politicians' salaries will be reduced and bonuses recently paid to government ministers will go to charity, the head of Poland's ruling party said Thursday following a public outcry.
An opinion poll last week showed a 12-point drop in support for the right-wing Law and Justice party after media reported on the bonuses government ministers received last year.
The prime minister at the time, who awarded the bonuses, fueled the uproar by insisting that the ministers "deserved these bonuses." Law and Justice won power in 2015 partly by criticizing the previous government for what the party said was extravagant spending.
Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said the party has taken note of the public reaction. He also recalled he had previously said that "you don't go into politics for money."
"Clearly, the people remember these words, and this is why they reacted this way to the bonuses and expect a far-going frugality in public life," Kaczynski said.
He said the money from the bonuses, which ran into tens of thousands of zlotys (thousands of dollars), would be donated to a Catholic Church charity. In a further move, the earnings of lawmakers and politicians at all levels of government will be reduced under a planned law Kaczynski said he hoped would take effect before summer.
The announcement comes as Poland's political parties start preparing for local elections in the fall. It was not immediately clear whether the salary reductions will affect the number of people willing to run.
Law and Justice spokeswoman Beata Mazurek said the moves are expected to silence criticism of the party leveled by the opposition.