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Polish presidential election postponed amid COVID-19 concerns


Polish presidential election postponed amid COVID-19 concerns

Woman in mask rides past a campaign poster for Andrzej Duda
Photo: Czarek Sokołowski

Poland’s ruling parties agreed this week to postpone the country’s presidential election, originally scheduled for today, due to public health concerns. The vote is expected to take place in July or August via a postal-only ballot.

It is likely that incumbent President Andrzej Duda (PiS) would have been re-elected today. Duda has been widely criticised for overseeing the weakening of Poland’s judiciary, particularly the creation of a disciplinary chamber of the Supreme Court and his support for a “muzzle law” to penalise judges who criticise the Polish government. Both actions were condemned by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in April, the latest in a series of so far ineffective responses from the EU to slow the deterioration of judicial independence in Poland.

The measures were also resisted by Supreme Court head and PiS-critic Malgorzata Gersdorf. Her retirement in April will allow Duda to nominate a loyal judge before the election can take place. This move would eliminate a key remaining source of domestic opposition against the judicial reforms, permitting PiS to further weaken the rule of law in Poland by targeting independent judges’ ability to criticise the government. Having already silenced much domestic opposition and seemingly unswayed by EU criticism, expect PiS and Duda, who will likely remain in power, to continue expanding government control over the judiciary.

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Photo: Stimson Center

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