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Polish Parliament approves postal-vote election reform

May 7, 2020

Polish lawmakers endorsed the bill that would allow the country to choose the president via an all-postal ballot. However, deputy PM Jacek Sasin said the postponed election would not take place before June.

The Polish parliament
Image: Imago/R. Unkel

Poland's ruling PiS party pushed its election reform through the parliament on Thursday after being forced to postpone the presidential vote originally set for this weekend.

The government can now proceed with its plans to hold an all-postal presidential vote amid the coronavirus crisis.

However, the ruling coalition would be forced to change its timeline and give up the ambition of implementing the vote in May, according to Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin.

Read more: EU opens legal case against Poland over judicial reform

"The earliest possible date is June," Sasin told the private RMF FM radio.

The bill adopted on Thursday was originally intended to serve as a legal basis for an all-postal presidential election this weekend.

Opposition leaders, including ex-European Council head Donald Tusk, had rejected the idea of a postal ballot. They say that the lockdown has prevented their candidates from campaigning while the incumbent Andrzej Duda makes daily appearances in the media.

Duda's popularity surge

The powerful PiS head and former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has previously insisted that elections needed to happen before May 23, when Duda's five-year term is set to expire according to the country's constitution. It was not immediately clear when the election would take place, but Kaczynski and his coalition partner leader Jaroslaw Gowin announced on Wednesday it would be held by postal vote to ensure safety "due to the epidemic."

President Duda, a long-time favorite in the polls, has seen his popularity surge amid the coronavirus pandemic, possibly putting him over the 50% treshhold needed to secure victory in the first round of the presidential election. However, the expected pandemic-triggered recession might dent in his popularity in the coming months.

dj/rt (Reuters, AP)

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