Polish opposition threatens to block plans for rescheduled election

WARSAW, May 13 ------ Poland’s main opposition grouping threatened on Tuesday to block planning for a delayed presidential election, accusing the ruling coalition of rushing a voting plan through parliament for political gain. The presidential election had been due to take place on May 10, but planning for it collapsed at the last minute over rifts within the coalition and with its opponents over how to hold the vote amid the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, Poland’s lower house of parliament, the ruling party-controlled Sejm, voted in favour of the legislation moving to discussion in Poland’s upper house of parliament, the opposition-controlled Senate. The ruling nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) wants to hold the election as soon as possible, fearing that its ally, President Andrzej Duda, risks losing his leading position in opinion polls as the economic fallout from the pandemic worsens. “Once again you have shown that you haven’t learnt from your mistakes... you didn’t use the opportunity for us to work together in the Sejm,” Borys Budka, the leader of centrist opposition party Civic Platform (PO), said in parliament just before the vote took place. The new legislation is unconstitutional as it gives too much power to the PiS-nominated speaker of parliament, Elzbieta Witek, to set the electoral calendar, Jan Grabiec, a spokesman for PO, told Reuters before the Sejm voted in favour of the bill. PiS blames the Senate for scuppering the May 10 vote as it chose to take the full 30 days permitted to analyse legislation that would have allowed the election to go ahead by postal ballot only. PO threatened to use the same delaying tactic again in the Senate, demanding amendments to hand more power to the electoral commission to organise the electoral calendar. PiS needs opposition support to ensure the electoral commission has enough time to organise the vote safely. Source: reuters.com