Lower house changes statute to allow electronic voting

Leszek Szymański/PAP

Poland's Sejm (lower house) amended its statute on Thursday to enable sittings and voting via electronic media. The changes went through in a 250 to 104 vote with 14 abstentions.

Under Polish law, such changes in the Sejm statute are permitted under martial law, emergency laws, natural disaster laws or epidemic laws. Epidemic laws have recently been introduced in Poland owing to the spreading coronavirus.

Also passed was a PSL-Kukiz15 proposal for the amendment to extend only until June 30.

Under the new statute, decisions on the introduction of online sittings will lie with the house speaker upon consultation with the Council of Elders. The house chancellery will be responsible for providing MPs with appropriate equipment.

MPs will confirm their presence at online sitting by logging in, speaking times will be restricted to three, five or 15 minutes. Only one address will be permitted on a given topic.

The regulations will extend over the Sejm Presidium, the Council of Elders, as well as the Sejm's committees and sub-committees.

The changes are valid from the day of their passage. They do not require scrutiny by the Senate (upper house) or signature by the president.

On Friday, the Sejm will debate the government's "crisis shield" plan to protect the national economy from the effects of the coronavirus epidemic.