- Year of publication: 2020
- Source: Show
- Pages: 423-433
- DOI Address: -
Referendums arose the permanent interest of both science and political practice. A lively debate is also ongoing in Poland. The article is devoted to the disputes related to the con- stitutional referendum, especially the concept of its non-binding character and its prior nature in relation to constitutional amendments, as well as changes in the sphere of local referendums. Particular attention has been also paid to issues concerning the freedom of speech during the referendum campaign and the implementation of referendum results.
In this article, the Author focused on analyzing the consequences of referendum deci- sions on the basis of Polish constitutional law, including the manner of their implemen- tation into the Polish legal order, if such actions are necessary. He indicates that a signif- icant complication related to the implementation of the referendum result is the inability to directly adopt laws in a referendum in the Polish political system, as well as imprecise regulations contained in the Act on National Referendum. He also states that it is worth considering to define the threshold for the binding nature of the referendum on the ba- sis of the level of support for the winning solution instead of the turnout in the popular vote. This would prevent the tactical absence, which under current conditions may lead to the lack of binding nature of such referendum. The danger is also caused by the lack of a grace period that would not allow for a specified period of time to implement leg- islative amendments violating the referendum result. This creates an essential fiction of the final result of such a referendum.
The article discusses the issue of the pre-constitutional referendum in Polish law. In 1992 a referendum approving the new constitution was introduced to the constitutional pro- visions. The current constitutional regulations expressly allow only the possibility of holding a constitutional referendum approving constitutional amendments. However, the analysis of current regulations leads to the conclusion that it is possible to announce a referendum on constitutional matters in accordance with Article 125 of the Constitu- tion, regulating the so-called nationwide referendum.
The local referendum in Poland is the only instrument that allows residents to direct- ly and ultimately decide on matters important for a given local community. On the one hand, this institution is strengthened by the right to referendum initiative of a binding nature that is granted to residents, but on the other, it is weakened by a number of bar- riers related to, among others, the requirement of high voter turnout determining the binding referendum result. For years changes in this area have been proposed by scien- tists, social organizations, as well as entities who have the right of legislative initiative. The last legislative proposal in this regard submitted to the Sejm in 2018 proposed, among others, granting the right of referendum initiative to the executive bodies of local gov- ernment units, restoring the possibility of holding the local referendum on the same day as the nationwide referendum or the election of the President of the Republic, elections to the Sejm, the Senate or the European Parliament. The most important proposal, how- ever, concerned the abolition of the requirement of minimum turnout conditioning the binding nature of the local referendum.
In the latest literature on the subject, one can notice an increase in interest in direct de- mocracy on the one hand, and on the other – a clear increase in the skepticism of research- ers towards the idea of making binding and important decisions for the state by popu- lar vote. The purpose of this article is to present and analyze the latest views of foreign doctrine of constitutional law (and, in addition: political science) about the institution of the referendum and to compare them with the (general) analysis of the legal regula- tion of this institution in Poland, as well as to present the real impact of referendums on the decision-making process and public policies in Poland. As a result, an attempt will be made to assess the Polish legal regulation of referendum institutions in terms of their effectiveness on the one hand, and potential threats (or resistance to threats) to the democratic order on the other. Although direct democracy, and especially a referen- dum, have a wide range of critics in the scientific community accusing it of even being anti-democratic, radical proposals calling for the complete abolition of referendums are rare. The postulates of appropriate changes in the legal regulation concerning the ref- erendum prevail in order to make it resistant to dangerous modern phenomena: popu- lism, political cynicism, manipulation and propaganda. The implementation of all pos- tulates for changes reported by representatives of science will be very difficult. Noticing this fact may cause that the referendum will become a decision-making procedure very rarely launched. This seems to be the intention of researchers who submit their propos- als and reservations – that direct democracy should be only an exception to representa- tive democracy and that the former should not be used against the latter.
In this paper, the author has focused on the freedom of speech during the referendum campaign, its limits and the consequences of crossing those limits. She emphasizes the importance of protecting individual rights against unreliable information during the campaign. She considers accelerated referendum proceedings as a mechanism to pre- vent the negative effects of the dissemination of false information that may affect the outcome of the referendum. She refers to the judgment of the Constitutional Tribu- nal that confirmed to the possibility of the resumption of referendum procedure and its consequences.
Vice-Presidents exist mainly in the states adopting the presidential system o gov- ernment. The overview of contemporary legal regulations proves, however, that the vice-presidency may also be found, though much less often, in the two remaining basic regimes, that is parliamentarianism and semi-presidentialism. The purpose of the arti- cle is to analyze constitutional provisions that relate to vice presidency in six countries in which one or the other of the two aforementioned systems was adopted. The author draws attention to the typical and specific features of this institution, arriving at the conclusion that its embedding in the systems of government other than the presiden- tial one is not a factor that essentially distinguishes the construction of the vice-pres- idency from that occurring in a typical or modified (compared to the model known from the US) presidentialism.
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