Opposition leader slams ruling party's electoral code changes

Piotr Nowak/PAP

Donald Tusk, leader of Poland's main opposition party, Civic Platform (PO), has criticised the latest changes to the electoral code promoted by the ruling party.

The Sejm, the lower house of parliament, passed an amendment to the electoral code on Thursday evening, mainly with votes from the ruling coalition, the United Right, which is led by the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party. The changes lower the limit required to form a constituency, to 200 from 500 inhabitants, and offer free transport to polling stations in rural areas where public transport is not available.

According to PiS, the changes are aimed at increasing the turnout in elections, but the opposition says they are meant to increase PiS's chances of winning an election as the party enjoys significant support in small towns and villages.

Tusk said on Friday that changes to election rules just months before the parliamentary election, which is to be held this autumn, is "a violation of the basic principles of democracy.

"If they are ready to tamper with the electoral code today, in the limelight, in order to increase their election chances, it's easy to imagine that they will be capable of other manipulation," Tusk said, expressing concerns that PiS may want to "rig the ballot."

The opposition leader also said that his party would prepare a civic initiative to "monitor" the vote.

Slawomir Nitras, a PO politician whom Tusk singled out to lead the initiative, said that the movement needs to involve "tens of thousands of people."