Polish MPs vote to continue work on contested changes to electoral law
PR dla Zagranicy
Poland’s MPs on Friday voted to continue work on a contested proposal for changes to the country’s electoral law and to rules regulating the functioning of local government.
Polish conservative MPs led by Jarosław Kaczyński (centre), head of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, in the lower house of parliament on Friday. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka
The proposal is sponsored by Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.
The opposition claims PiS is seeking to boost its performance at the ballot box, but Law and Justice has said it aims to make voting more transparent and provide stronger guarantees that elections are fair.
The new rules would do away with single-member constituencies in elections to district councils and reduce the number of seats available in elections to county councils and regional government assemblies.
It would also change the way in which members of the State Election Commission (PKW), which conducts and oversees elections, are selected. Seven members of the commission would be elected by the lower house of parliament, or the Sejm.
At the moment, the Constitutional Tribunal, the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Administrative Court each delegate three judges to work in the commission.
In addition, the proposal would introduce live camera feeds from polling stations as well as from debates by town, district and regional councillors.
The bill also limits to two the number of terms that can be served by local government officials such as mayors.
The proposal provides for a new design of ballot papers and seeks to change the method by which votes are counted. According to the ruling party, the aim is to make voting more transparent.
The new rules would also introduce a second set of polling station officials to provide stronger guarantees that elections are fair, the country’s ruling conservatives have said.
In a 235-199 vote, the 460-member lower house sent the bill for further work by a parliamentary committee. The lawmakers decided against discarding the proposal at its first reading despite urging from the opposition.