Poland - November 2022
President approves delay to local elections
Local elections, originally scheduled to be held in autumn 2023, will now be held in autumn 2024, after the proposal by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party was signed into legislation by President Andrzej Duda. The one-year delay was justified by the executive so as to avoid clashes with the general elections of autumn 2023 and the European Parliament elections of spring 2024. Constitutional lawyers and civil society organizations have raised concerns that the delay violates the constitutional principle of tenure, and the delay has also drawn criticism from the opposition, who argue that it is a mere political manoeuvre as the ruling party is falling in opinion polls.
Member of Parliament stripped of immunity for participation in Women’s Strike protests; another MP voluntarily resigns theirs
An opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, has had her legal immunity removed after a majority of the lower parliamentary chamber (Sejm) voted in favour. Scheuring-Wielgus will face prosecution for ‘offending religious feelings’ - a crime punishable by a two-year prison sentence - for her participation in the Strajk Kobiet (Women’s Strike) protests of 2020, which were against the tightening of the abortion law by the ruling coalition. Another opposition MP, Borys Budka, voluntarily resigned his legal immunity to face an indictment for criminal defamation due to an unrelated, separate 2020 incident. The Law and Justice Party also brought forward a bill this month to amend the Polish Constitution and strip all parliamentarians of formal immunity. This comes as the Secretary General of the Council of Europe reported that Poland does not fulfil its requirement “to ensure to everyone under its jurisdiction the enjoyment of the right to a fair trial by an independent and impartial tribunal”.