The Polish lower house of parliament, the Sejm, approved on Thursday government-sponsored legislation that would allow the country’s presidential election to go ahead by postal ballot, according to voting records.
Poland’s lower house of parliament gave the green light on Thursday for a presidential election to be held by postal vote following a dispute over whether the vote could take place during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Sejm resumed its session at 9am on Thursday. Shortly before 10am, the lawmakers voted on the Senate’s decision to reject postal ballot in presidential election. All 460 MPs took part in the vote, of which 236 were in favour of rejecting upper house’s call, 213 were against, and 11 abstained.
All representatives from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party voted against the Senate’s decision – 235 MPs, whereas all but one of 134 Civic Coalition members backed the upper house call not to carry out postal ballot. „I’m against PiS. I overdid it,” said Jerzy Borowczak, admitting that his decision was a mistake.
The Senate’s call was also supported by all members of Lewica (The Left), PSL-Kukiz’15, as well as one unaffiliated MP. All 11 representatives of far-right Confederation party abstained from voting.
The election was scheduled to take place on Sunday but the opposition said the ruling nationalist party, Law and Justice (PiS), would be putting political gain ahead of public health if it went ahead on that date.
PiS and its junior coalition partner, Accord, reached an agreement on Wednesday on postponing the election in anticipation that the Supreme Court will declare election planned for Sunday are not valid so new date could be announced.
Though the Sejm, or lower house of parliament, approved legislation allowing a postal vote, the timing of the vote still remains unclear, with PiS saying on Thursday that June was now the earliest date it could take place.
„Yesterday we worked out a solution which is good for Poland, which guarantees safe, fully democratic and transparent elections,” Accord party leader Jarosław Gowin told reporters on Thursday before the parliamentary vote.
While there was a sense of relief among many Poles that the nation would not be forced into an election during the coronavirus pandemic, government critics said it was unclear what legal basis PiS had to cancel Sunday’s vote.
PiS and its ally have said they anticipated that the Supreme Court would void the vote and that the parliamentary speaker would then announce a new date. Critics have said that could violate election rules.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said on Thursday that he hopes the country’s presidential election will be held as soon as possible, after members of the ruling alliance agreed to postpone the vote first scheduled for May 10.
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and a junior coalition partner announced a late-night deal on Wednesday to allow a presidential election scheduled for Sunday to be held at a later date, averting a possible political crisis.
Duda said he welcomed the parties’ agreement over postponing the election.