Commissioner for Human Rights: Impossible elections
Voting entirely by post can breach the constitutional principle of the universality of the elections. The campaign being conducted does not respect the principle of equal opportunities for the candidates, while the citizens are not receiving even a minimal amount of knowledge about the elections. Held in this way, they cannot be consistent with international standards.
Commissioner for Human Rights dr hab. Adam Bodnar’s opinion on the Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) presidential elections planned during the period of the pandemic has just arrived in the Senate.
We are in a state of emergency
The Commissioner for Human Rights notes that the criteria provided for by the constitution for introducing a state of emergency, in this case, a state of natural disaster, have been satisfied.
Meanwhile, the authorities are not introducing it directly, but through legal acts, to which they are giving different names – e.g. “on specific solutions related to preventing, controlling and combating Covid-19, other infectious diseases and the crisis situations caused by them” or “on the special principles of holding elections for the office of President of the Republic of Poland ordered in 2020.”
“It should be categorically emphasised that it [the state of emergency] is in force in reality. Therefore, in this situation (…) the prohibition arising from Article 228, para. 6 of the constitution that, among others, the Act on the election of the President of the Republic of Poland cannot be amended during a state of emergency is applicable,” states the ombudsman.
Adam Bodnar is of the opinion that legislative work on the Act on the 2020 presidential elections is being conducted in breach of the constitution. He assesses that the new rules “cannot fully enable citizens to exercise their right to vote.”
The Ombudsman also gave his opinion to the National Electoral Commission, which, according to the law, monitors that elections are conducted correctly and that the rights of the voters arising from the constitution are respected.
Read the full opinion in Polish
Translated by Roman Wojtasz
First published in Polish at Polityka, April 22, 2020.