Tags: EU | Poland | Politics

Poland's Lawmakers Approve Contentious New Electoral Rules

Poland's Lawmakers Approve Contentious New Electoral Rules

Friday, 15 December 2017 11:41 AM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's lawmakers have approved much-criticized new rules for local elections that opponents say undermine the independence of the electoral bodies and fairness in voting.

Dominated by the ruling Law and Justice party, parliament voted late Thursday to approve the party's changes to the electoral law and to the State Electoral Commission, ahead of local elections next year.

It was the latest in a string of deep changes that the ruling party is introducing to various areas, including the media and the justice system, which European Union leaders say go against the bloc's fundamental values. Massive street protest have been held against the changes.

A recent overhaul of the judicial system that still needs approval from the Senate and the president has led EU leaders to consider steps toward stripping Poland of its EU voting rights. A decision on whether to trigger the unprecedented procedure will likely be taken on Wednesday.

The Senate is to vote later Friday on the changes to the judiciary.

Regarding the new electoral rules, opposition lawmakers say that they could have a negative effect on the fairness of elections.

Opposition Modern party leader, Katarzyna Lubnauer, said their adoption would mean the "demise of what we call democracy."

The head of the State Electoral Commission, Wojciech Hermelinski, said Friday he will seek a meeting with President Andrzej Duda to share his skepticism. Duda and the Senate still need to approve the new regulations, but could also question or reject them.

Under the new rules lawmakers are to choose seven out of nine commission members, who are currently chosen by judges. The interior minister is given the right to appoint election supervisors. Rules governing the validity of ballots are to be liberalized, allowing voters to correct their choices on the ballot itself as they fill it out. Critics say that opens the door to manipulation.

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Poland's lawmakers have approved much-criticized new rules for local elections that opponents say undermine the independence of the electoral bodies and fairness in voting.Dominated by the ruling Law and Justice party, parliament voted late Thursday to approve the party's...
EU,Poland,Politics
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2017-41-15
Friday, 15 December 2017 11:41 AM
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