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Mail-in ballots for the Polish presidential election
Image: picture-alliance/NurPhoto/B. Zawrzel

Poland faces election chaos with just days to go

May 6, 2020

Poland has been set to hold a presidential election this weekend, but now not even the government knows if the vote will actually take place. Instead, the country might dissolve the parliament amid political infighting.


A snap parliamentary election in Poland "cannot be excluded" if its politicians failed to agree on the presidential ballot, said Michal Dworczyk, the top aide of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

His Wednesday remarks come just days before the scheduled presidential vote. Initially, Polish citizens were set to take to the polls on Sunday, but the government has since decided to turn the event into a postal ballot in order to minimize the risk of coronavirus infection. Opposition leaders, including ex-European Council head Donald Tusk, slammed the idea and demanded the vote to be postponed. The rivals of incumbent Andrzej Duda insist that the pandemic lockdown had prevented them from campaigning while the president makes daily appearances in the media.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski
Kaczynski said the presidential election needed to be held soonImage: Getty Images/AFP/W. Radwanski

The ruling PiS party and its powerful head Jaroslaw Kaczynski have repeatedly insisted that the presidential vote needed to happen before May 23, when Duda's five-year term is set to expire according to the country's constitution. In turn, some opposition leaders have urged the government to declare a state of emergency, allowing it to legally postpone the vote.

Not enough votes in the Sejm?

The government persevered with the idea of the postal ballot and pushed the required legal changes through the lower house of the parliament last month. The bid was then rejected by the opposition-controlled Senate and is now set for another vote in the Sejm. However, some of the lawmakers aligned with the ruling coalition have signaled they might vote against it and trigger the defeat of the bill. Even if the bid is passed, it would virtually impossible to meet the May 10 deadline.

However, the election has not yet been officially postponed.

Speaking on Polish public radio on Wednesday, Dworczyk said that a defeat im the Sejm would prompt "a very serious political crisis."

"I think that such discussions have to be very cautious, but a scenario in which early elections take place cannot be excluded," he said.

dj/sms (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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