Polish politicians of different political options, especially while proposing new reforms, declare that citizens should have a say in many issues under discussion. In reality, however, instruments of direct democracy stipulated by the Polish constitution (The Constitution of the Republic of Poland, 1997) and laws are not frequently applied (see: people’s initiative, social consultations), both due to Polish people’s low degree of public activity and because of the lack of parliamentary customs and the authorities’ accompanying lack of willingness to work out new solutions by way of serious debate and considering the society’s ambitions and expectations, also those representing positions others than those of the government majority.
The aim of this paper is to discuss the institution of a referendum in Poland and to present the approach of the Polish political class to the institution of a nationwide referendum using the example of the referendum of 6 September 2015. We also discuss the history of this institution in Poland and address the issue of its legal foundations, as well as present arguments of the followers and opponents of this form of direct democracy. It is also necessary to analyse the motives behind the initiating entity’s decision concerning the organisation of a nationwide referendum from a broader perspective and to evaluate its implications in the sphere of politics.