Friday, June 14, 2024
Friday, June 14, 2024
Home » European Parliament Calls for a ‘Full-Scale Observation Mission’ in Upcoming Polish Election

European Parliament Calls for a ‘Full-Scale Observation Mission’ in Upcoming Polish Election

by Aitor Piedrabuena

The European Parliament approved on Tuesday a resolution about the upcoming general election in Poland.

The text, which is non-binding, decries the “deliberate and systematic efforts” made by the Polish government to undermine the core values of the European Union and expresses “deep concerns” about the recent changes to the country’s electoral code.

The changes, introduced by the hard-right Law and Justice (PiS) ruling party, are meant to boost turnout by creating more polling stations in villages and providing free transport to elderly and disabled people on voting day.

The opposition claims tweaking the rules so close to an election is illegal and its only purpose is to attract a larger share of rural voters, a demographic that is favourable to the PiS-led executive.

In their resolution, MEPs call on the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to “organise a full-scale election observation mission” for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Poland, which are set to be held sometime between October and November.

The OSCE regularly monitors elections at national, regional and local level taking place across Europe and reports back on whether they are conducted in a fair, free, equal and transparent manner.

According to its website, the OSCE has already assessed the electoral landscape in Poland and raised the possibility of deploying a “limited” observation mission later this year, which would in theory fall short of the lawmakers’ demand.

“While the mission would visit a limited number of polling stations on election day, comprehensive and systematic observation of election day proceedings is not envisaged,” said a preliminary report by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Poland’s Foreign Affairs Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

In their resolution, which was adopted with 472 votes in favour and 136 against, MEPs also urged the Polish authorities to “repeal” or “at least suspend” a new law that establishes a state committee to investigate cases of “Russian influence.”

The committee has been designed with prosecutor-like powers to hold hearings on public officials and companies that are suspected of having acted to “the detriment of the interests” of Poland between the years 2007 and 2022.

Potential penalties, referred to in the law as “remedial measures,” include bans on holding a security clearance or a position that involves the management of public funds, lasting up to 10 years.

Opposition parties and legal experts have decried the state committee as a political tool to target candidates in the run-up to the general election and make them effectively ineligible for public office.

The European Commission has launched legal action against Poland, arguing the law infringes upon a series of legal principles, such as the right to effective judicial protection, the non-retroactivity of sanctions and data protection requirements.

MEPs call on the Commission to move forward “as soon as possible if the act remains in force, in particular by using an expedited infringement procedure.”

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