Political finance


How are political parties and politicians funded in your jurisdiction?

Funding of political parties in Poland is subject to strict legal regulation, primarily by the Act on Political Parties. The Constitution states that political parties’ sources of financing are made public. The Act on Political Parties identifies the main sources of financing: the income earned by the political party using its own assets; income from natural persons in the form of membership fees, donations, inheritances and bequests; and financing from the state budget in the form of subsidies or subventions. The political party also has the right to take out bank loans for its statutory activity. A political party cannot conduct a business activity or raise funds from public collections.

Registration of interests

Must parties and politicians register or otherwise declare their interests? What interests, other than travel, hospitality and gifts, must be declared?

The Sejm and Senate members are required to disclose the benefits obtained by them or their spouses. To this end, the Act on the Exercise of the Mandate of Deputy and Senator created the Register of Benefits, to which the following information should be reported:

  1. all positions occupied and general activities performed in both public administration and private institutions for which remuneration is collected, as well as professional work performed on a person’s own account;
  2. any financial or material support for public activity carried out by the Sejm or Senate member;
  3. donations received from domestic or foreign entities, whose value exceeds 50 per cent of the statutory minimum remuneration of employees for work (which is calculated monthly);
  4. domestic or foreign trips not related to the performed public function, if their cost has not been covered by the Sejm or Senate member or his or her spouse, or their employing institutions or political parties, associations or foundations of which they are members; and
  5. other benefits obtained, whose value is greater than that indicated in point (iii), not related to occupying positions, or carrying out general activities or professional work.

All political parties have a reporting obligation, which takes the form of an annual report on the sources of their funds, including bank loans and the terms and conditions of obtaining them, and expenses incurred from the electoral fund in the previous calendar year.

Contributions to political parties and officials

Are political contributions or other disbursements to parties and political officials limited or regulated? How?

Polish law provides for the amount and limitations on transferring assets to a political party.

Membership fees may be paid to a political party only by its members, who must additionally have permanent residence in the territory of Poland. Donations may be paid to a political party by a natural person, who must also have permanent residence in the territory of Poland. Currently, donations are not accepted from legal entities. Donations may be made to the current account of the party and to the account of an electoral fund established to finance the party’s participation in elections.

The contributions paid to the parties are limited. Contributions from one person to the current account of the party may not exceed 15 times the statutory minimum remuneration for work during the year. Additionally, a party member may pay membership fees not exceeding the minimum remuneration for work (from one member) in a year. In addition, natural persons, regardless of whether they are party members, have the right to make donations to a party’s electoral fund of an amount not exceeding 15 times the minimum remuneration.

If the one-off payment is higher than the minimum wage, it must be made by cheque, bank transfer or credit card. If it does not exceed the amount of the statutory minimum remuneration for work, it may be made in cash. The above rules also apply to non-cash contributions. However, contributions to a party’s electoral fund may be paid only by cheque, bank transfer or credit card.

A political party can only accumulate funds in bank accounts, with the exception of membership fees that do not exceed the minimum wage of one member in one year, which are accumulated by organisational units of the party for the purpose of covering expenses related to day-to-day operations.

Sources of funding for political campaigns

Describe how political campaigns for legislative positions and executive offices are financed.

Whether a source of political campaign funding is acceptable depends on the political party, coalition of parties or voters that create the election committee. In the case of party committees, money can only come from the electoral fund of the party. In the case of committees of organisations and voters, the funding can be sourced from contributions from Polish citizens residing permanently in Poland and from bank loans taken for electoral purposes.

Contributions to the electoral fund, which a party creates in order to finance elections, can only be made by the party itself, or by a natural person in the form of a donation, inheritance or bequest. The total amount of an individual’s contribution to the electoral fund of a given political party in one year may not exceed 15 times the statutory minimum remuneration for work. If, however, in a given calendar year more than one election takes place, the sum is increased to 25 times the minimum remuneration.

A political party has the right to receive subsidies from the state budget for its statutory activities during the term of office of the Sejm if an electoral committee of the party participated in Sejm elections and received at least 3 per cent of valid votes on its district lists of candidates for deputies, or, in elections to the Sejm, the party became part of an electoral coalition, whose district lists of candidates for deputies were awarded with at least 6 per cent of the valid votes cast.

Lobbyist participation in fundraising and electioneering

Describe whether registration as a lobbyist triggers any special restrictions or disclosure requirements with respect to candidate fundraising.

Registration as a lobbyist does not trigger any special restrictions or disclosure requirements with respect to the candidate fundraising.

Independent expenditure and coordination

How is parallel political campaigning independent of a candidate or party regulated?

Under the Election Code, an election campaign can only be conducted on the basis of permission given by the election proxy of the committee. Consequently, under the law, it cannot be claimed that the campaign is being conducted independently. However, the Election Code does not sufficiently regulate campaigns run online, which is considered to be a loophole that can be exploited contrary to the general principles of the Election Code.