PiS - Law and Justice - the ruling party in Poland has a long track record of democratic backsliding. Its attempt to hold the presidential election through postal vote during the COVID-19 crisis is not only another blatant attack on the rule of law, which twists the constitution and threatens Poland’s democracy, but also puts an additional strain on an already difficult health situation.
A hastily prepared election process via postal vote only does not ensure the necessary conditions for a fair, secret, and democratic vote. The process is currently driven by the government, not an independent electoral body, raising doubts as to the validity of the results of such an election. Large numbers of voters, such as Poles living abroad, and people under quarantine, would effectively be excluded from voting due to the current proposed election format.
The rejection of the proposed bill by the Senate is a positive sign, but the government must now propose a safe and democratic plan to postpone the election until it can be held in a fair and just manner, by post or otherwise.
Thomas Waitz, co-chair of the European Green Party, comments:
“The European Union has recently started an infringement procedure against Poland for its other attacks on democracy and the independence of the judiciary. The way the government is handling the presidential election process comes as an additional sign of this democratic backsliding. The Polish government should immediately revert this trend and postpone the elections to as soon as the Coronavirus situation allows it. The time now is not for petty politics but for the safety of all citizens.”
Małgorzata Tracz, Co-President of Polish Green Party Zieloni and Member of Parliament, comments:
“Presidential elections in May cannot be held. They would be blatantly undemocratic and threaten the health and lives of voters and civil servants in the electoral administration. Today Poland faces the biggest battle for democracy in 30 years and we need European solidarity to win it.”
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