Senate may vote on 2020 presidential election bill today or tomorrow

Grodzki said he is glad the State Electoral Commission's (PKW) resolution, which states that there was no possibility to vote in the May-10 scheduled presidential elections, was finally published in the Journal of Laws on Monday. Radek Pietruszka/PAP

The Senate upper house is expected to vote on the ruling party's 2020 presidential ballot bill this evening or on Tuesday morning, depending on the pace of work in the committees and at plenary sessions, Senate Speaker Tomasz Grodzki told reporters on Monday.

Grodzki said he is glad the State Electoral Commission's (PKW) resolution, which states that there was no possibility to vote in the May-10 scheduled presidential elections, was finally published in the Journal of Laws on Monday.

"This opens up a much wider field of action for senators. And I expect that voting on electoral law can happen either tonight or tomorrow morning," the Senate speaker added.

Three Senate committees debated the new legislation last Tuesday, but their meeting was adjourned until June 1. Deputy Senate Speaker Gabriela Morawska-Stanecka (Left) demanded then that vacatio legis of the presidential election law should be in effect until August 6 when the term of office of the incumbent president ends. Grodzki said last Wednesday that the Senate will likely add numerous amendments to the Law and Justice-sponsored bill.

The three committees resumed work on the 2020 presidential election bill on Monday and are expected to finish its processing today, according to the legislative committee head Krzysztof Kwiatkowski.

The head of the main opposition group, the centrist Civic Coalition (KO) caucus Leszek Czarnobaj has told PAP that today at 2 pm a meeting of senate clubs of KO, The Left, the Polish People's Party (PSL) and independent senators will take place to discuss the amendments to the presidential election bill. According to him, Morawska-Stanecka's motion to hold the elections after August 6 is unlikely to be accepted.

The election was initially scheduled to take place on May 10, amidst strong public protest over safety risks due to the coronavirus epidemic. In response to the protests, the government ordained the ballot to be held by postal voting, but its postponement became necessary owing to the Senate's (upper house) prolonged reading of the necessary legislation. No new election date was set.

On May 12, two days after the election which was not held, the Sejm (lower house) passed a new election bill, which is currently being read by the Senate. Prepared by the ruling United Right's senior coalition partner, Law and Justice (PiS), the draft changes the voting rules, making the ballot a mixed one, meaning that citizens will be able to cast their votes either at polling stations or by post. The Senate has 30 days to process the bill.