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Author: Łukasz Danel
Year of publication: 2017
Source: Show
Pages: 7-18
DOI Address: http://dx.doi.org/10.15804/ksm201701
PDF: ksm/22/ksm201701.pdf

Amending a constitution or replacing it with a new one is never easy. Even if politicians usually have a lot of ideas how it should be done, the real problem is to put these ideas into practice. If the President Duda’s initiative is to succeed, so in other words – if such a referendum is to be held, the consent of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, i.e. the second chamber of the Polish parliament is needed. According to the Article 125 of the current Constitution the consent of the Senate is given “by an absolute majority vote taken in the presence of at least half of the statutory number of Senators”. And while Law and Justice has such an absolute majority of seats in the Senate, it is difficult to say with certainty whether today, in the face of a rather tight relationship between President Duda and the Law and Justice’s leadership, Senators of this party will support the president’s initiative. And even if the referendum is held, it will only be the first step. The change of the constitution itself requires either the so-called ‘constitutional majority’ or a bipartisan consent, that is the agreement between the ruling party and at least part of the opposition. For the moment Law and Justice does not have such a constitutional majority, even if it joins forces with Kukiz ’15 parliamentary faction – the only political group that welcomed President Duda’s initiative with great enthusiasm. Other Polish political parties do not want to hear about any constitutional change accusing both Law and Justice and President Duda of repeatedly violating the constitution that is currently in force. Of course, it may change after the next parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 2019 and 2020 respectively, especially if Law and Justice gets even better results, what – at least today – is suggested in the opinion polls. Maybe then, to change the constitution, they will not need agreement with any other political party, just like the Hungarian Fidesz after the 2010 elections. However, there is no doubt that disputes on the competences and powers of the President of the Republic of Poland, especially (but not only) in the context of the way he/she is elected, will return regularly in the discussions on potential constitutional changes. The possible evolution of the Polish parliamentarism into the presidential or semi-presidential regime would force a significant increase in the powers of the head of state, still elected directly by the people. Staying within the framework of the parliamentary regime would require a more precise definition of the constitutional position of the President of the Republic of Poland, leaving open the issue of the way he/she is elected.

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