News

Virus-hit Poland considers presidential election delay or via post

April 18, 2020 12:56 AM


Poland's May 10 presidential election should be postponed for two years or held anytime via a postal ballot given the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the health minister recommended on Friday.

Both scenarios echo proposals already floated by the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which backs allied incumbent President Andrzej Duda. 

The current frontrunner, Duda could clinch a victory in a first round of the vote on May 10, opinion polls suggest.

"A presidential election in its traditional form, where we all go to polling stations, could be held safely in two years at the earliest, and this is my recommendation," health minister Lukasz Szumowski told reporters in Warsaw in a long-awaited assessment of public health risks posed by the ballot.

"If political groups don't agree to this solution... then the only safe way to hold the presidential election is via a postal vote that can be held anytime," added Szumowski, a ruling parthy member.

Powerful PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki have so far refused to change the May 10 date.  

Analysts suggest Duda would struggle to win at a later date, with the economy expected to buckle under a month-long lockdown that has seen businesses shut and Poles confined to their homes to stem coronavirus infections.

An opinion poll published last month showed that 72 percent of respondents wanted the ballot postponed due to health risks.  

The pandemic has already claimed over 300 lives and infected nearly 8,400 people in Poland, an EU country of 38 million people.

Last week, the PiS used its majority in parliament to pass legislation paving the way for a postal ballot for round one of the election on May 10. 

The opposition and legal experts called the move unconstitutional.

Quoting Constitutional Court verdicts, they said that changes to the election code require constitutional amendments that are made at least six months before voting day.

Warning of possible election fraud in a postal ballot, the liberal opposition has urged voters to boycott the election.

Pointing to health risks, local government authorities have refused to set up election commissions and polling stations.

The PiS government, for its part, has rejected opposition calls to declare a state of disaster or emergency over the pandemic that would automatically postpone the election. 

Under the measures, the ballot could be held 90 days after they are formally called off. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOavNaBX4NU


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