On very early morning on Saturday (March 28), Poland’s lower house passed draft regulations aimed at tackling the effects of coronavirus epidemic. During the chamber’s session, ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party submitted a last-minute amendment changing the electoral code. PiS, as well as the biggest opposition faction – Civic Coalition, voted in favour of the bill. The latter, however, voted against the provisions regarding elections.
Poland’s ruling nationalists fast-tracked changes to the electoral code through parliament in the early hours of Saturday in a bid to press ahead with presidential elections in May which have been criticised by opposition parties who want the vote to be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The changes, which would allow postal voting for senior citizens and those in quarantine or self-isolating, were an unexpected last-minute addition to a bill that was intended to shield the economy from the effects of the health emergency.
Poland is due to hold the first round of its presidential election on May 10, with incumbent Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, well ahead in the polls.
The constitutional court ruled in 2006 that changes to the electoral code could not be made in the six months preceding the elections.
„This move is completely against the constitution and electoral law,” said Andrzej Zoll, a former head of Poland’s constitutional court, told the Onet website. „It must be emphasised clearly: six months before the election, no changes can be made.”