Poland to hold postal presidential vote

Poland is sticking to its plan of holding presidental elections on 10 May. The parliament in Warsaw made the decision on Monday on the basis of the crisis law passed at the end of March. Although all Poles rather than (as the government had originally planned) just those over 60, who are mostly PiS voters, will now vote by mail, criticism is rife among commentators.

Open/close all quotes
Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Democracy as collateral damage

The amendment to the electoral law is another step on the path to an authoritarian regime, fumes the Warsaw correspondent of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Florian Hassel:

“An election in times of an epidemic is questionable if only because the corresponding campaign is cancelled. And the plan to send tens of thousands of mail carriers across the country during what will probably be the peak of the crisis and to engage hundreds of thousands of Poles in local polling stations is the kind of absurd idea that only an autocratic ruler can come up with. ... Unfortunately no one can stop Kaczyński: the Constitutional Court has been a show court for years, and the government and President Andrzej Duda are nothing more than puppets. They are also united by the will to secure power. In the corona crisis the last remnants of the rule of law and democracy are being eroded in Poland as they are in Hungary.”

Azonnali (HU) /

Fair competition not possible

Sadly the electoral race won't be as thrilling as it promised to be before the coronavirus outbreak:

“It's already clear that the conditions required for fair competition have not been met. The fact that campaigning has been put on hold since the beginning of March works in incumbent President Andrzej Duda's favour. It's not uncommon for the President to have a high profile in the media in times of crisis. But now his rivals suddenly can't campaign at all, and that's already reflected in the opinion polls. ... If Duda is re-elected under such conditions, how much legitimacy will he have? ... If chaos breaks out and the lawfulness of the election is questioned, it can be counterproductive.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Kaczyński will soon be an absolute ruler

The Polish government is using the pandemic to further dismantle democracy and the rule of law, the Süddeutsche Zeitung criticises:

“It's already undemocratic to hold on to an election in a state of emergency. On top of that, now it's unconstitutional to change the election law so that Kaczyński can give his party and his candidate a carte blanche to pass more unlawful laws. Kaczyński is well on his way to attaining absolute power, with full control of the Supreme Court for example. At the latest when the Court's current presdient's term comes to an end and a loyal successor is installed, he'll be able to hold sway there too. Ex-Constitutional Court President Jerzy Stępień Poland sees Poland on the path to dictatorship. That may be exaggerated. But the country displays certain characteristics of an authoritarian regime.”

Klubjagiellonski.pl (PL) /

Government had an easy job of it

Klubjagiellonski.pl criticises the opposition's failure to act:

“Unfortunately, the opposition downplayed the problem and didn't seize the opportunity to banish the virus of illegality from Polish electoral law. There is still a faint hope that the government camp will come to its senses. ... However, since even the opposition has paid little attention to the dangers associated with the amendment of the electoral law, it's unlikely that the ruling camp will decide to withdraw it now. So until we see with our own eyes that the government is retracting this disastrous measure we must warn of its potentially tragic consequences.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

The opposition has an ace up its sleeve

There is still a way to stop PiS leader Kaczyński and President Duda, Gazeta Wyborcza explains:

“The democratic opposition, which is united on this issue despite its divisions and quarrels, should expose the government's systematic failures, the deficiencies in hospital equipment and the collapse of the healthcare system. ... Such a campaign on the Internet and in the media - conducted in solidarity and showing that despite differing views the opposition, unlike the PiS, is able to unite to protect the safety and lives of Poles - could destroy President Duda's advantage.”