Poland’s ruling United Right coalition, which contains the Law and Justice Party (PiS), has responded to opposition demands to delay elections by saying it is ready to postpone them for two years.
The move puts the ball in the opposition’s court with elections. The proposal should be voted on parliament on Monday, as a change to the constitution will be required.
The proposal would extend Polish President Andrzej Duda’s term by two years and ensure elections take place in 2022, which is the offer put forward Jarosław Gowin’s Agreement party and backed by coalition members PiS.
“The opposition now has the opportunity to legally postpone the elections. If it does not support this, it will bear responsibility for holding the election on the May 10,” wrote Editor-in-Chief Tomasz Sakiewiczof of Polish newspaper Gazeta Polska.
Last Friday was an intense day in Polish politics. Everything started a radio interview with PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński, where he underlined that the elections must take place on May 10 as that is what is written into the constitution.
“The conditions to introduce a state of emergency are not fulfilled, therefore there is no possibility to delay the presidential elections, and especially for a whole year,” he said.
Kaczyński’s view was not shared by Jarosław Gowin’s Agreement politicians, who claimed that they will not vote for the mechanisms necessary to conduct elections on the current May 10 date.
Gowin stressed that the elections could not take place on May 10 due to public health reasons but that a later date in summer or fall were also possibly unsafe due to the current epidemic threat.
Gowin pointed out that all medical data shows that public health would not be threatened if elections were held in two years’ time and such a change is possible by changing Poland’s constitution.
The plan involves a seven-year term for the current president and no possibility of re-electing him. This means Andrzej Duda would govern only until 2022, after which elections would be held.
PiS has officially backed Gowin’s proposal if there is enough support for the motion in both chambers of parliament.
Meanwhile, the opposition has completely rejected the idea.
“There is no permission for manipulating the constitution. The left will definitely not accept and support such ideas. There is a very simple solution – introducing a state of natural disaster,” Left Party MP Andrzej Rozenek stated.
The Civic Platform (PO) and the Polish People’s Party (PSL) have also announced that they will not support the proposal and instead, call for introducing a state of natural disaster.
Title image: Leaders of United Right: Jarosław Kaczyński (PiS) and Jarosław Gowin (Agreement), source: Z. Kaczmarek, Gazeta Polska.