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European Parliament elections 2024. Ministers are running. When will they lose their mandate in the Sejm? We explain

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According to the opposition, members of the government running for the European Parliament are “fleeing” from Poland – but according to other theories, they are only supposed to “pull the result” and then resign from their mandate as MEPs and return to their positions. Is it possible? What about their parliamentary mandates? We checked the procedures.

Several ministers and secretaries of state of the current government are running for the European Parliament. The National Council of the Civic Platform approved it on April 24 KO lists – among the “ones” are, among others, Marcin Kierwiński (head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration), Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz (head of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage) and Borys Budka (head of the Ministry of State Assets). On the other hand “ones” of the Left are, for example, Deputy Minister of Culture and National Heritage Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrzej Szejna and Deputy Minister of Justice Krzysztof Śmiszek. Whereas on the Third Way lists The “number ones” from the government are: Minister of Development and Technology Krzysztof Hetman, Deputy Minister of Culture of National Heritage Bożena Żelazowska, Deputy Minister of Defense Paweł Zalewski, Deputy Minister of Digitization Michał Gramatyka.

>> Electoral clashes of the “ones”. Who will fight for individual districts

The names of government members on the electoral lists are commented on by the opposition, mainly politicians from Law and Justice. April 24, PiS MP Paweł Jabłońskiby sharing post of the Civic Platform with the “ones” in the EP elections, he wrote on the X platform: “They are running away from the government like rats from a sinking ship.” PiS MEP Anna Zalewska (who herself moved from a ministerial position to the EP) asked whether this was an “evacuation operation?!”. In the post, she showed a graphic titled “They are fleeing to the European Parliament!” with images of Sienkiewicz and Kierwiński, but also of KO MPs and heads of two parliamentary investigative committees: Michał Szczerba and Dariusz Joński.

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“Ones” of the Civic Coalition to the European Parliamenttwitter.com/Platforma_org

April 27 in “Breakfast at Trójka” PiS MP Adam Bielan said that “ministers and parliamentarians have every right to run for the European Parliament and this happened before, but not after four months.” Also PiS MP Marcin Przydacz in “Piasecki's conversation” on TVN24 on April 29, he claimed that “Kierwiński, Budka and Sienkiewicz are escaping from the government ship for warm jobs in Brussels.” When asked whether he thought leaving the government for the European Parliament was a scandal, he replied: “After four months of not very active work? Well, it shows what the motivations of these people are.”

It is not only politicians who comment on the start of ministers in the European Parliament elections. Zbigniew Hołdys he wrote on April 24 on the X platform: “There is something abnormal in the fact that it is profitable for ministers to leave their jobs in the Polish government and go as a member of the European Parliament, because the money is several times higher.” When one of the Internet users commented list of “ones” of the Left: “This is not an offensive, just an evacuation from a sinking ship”, his post generated over 100,000. views.

“One” of the Left to the European Parliamentx.com/__Left

This type of comments was answered by, among others, Deputy Minister Śmiszek, who on April 28 in “Coffee on the bench” on TVN24 he explained why he was running: “The New Left decided to do one thing: mobilize those who somehow stayed at home during the last local government elections and did not consider these elections important.” And he argued: “We are fighting for a very important thing: Europe which will either be weakened by Putin and his supporters (…) or it will be the European Union, the European Parliament, built by progressive, democratic forces.

The fact that transfers from the government to the European Parliament are nothing new was pointed out by “Newsweek Polska” journalist Dominika Długosz, who – reacting to Paweł Jabłoński's post – she wrote: “I understand that in 2019, half of the PiS government, headed by the deputy prime minister for social affairs, rushed to the European Parliament because they simply did not believe in the party's great success in the fall and winning another term? Strong.”

That's true. In 2019, he was elected to the European Parliament from the government of Mateusz Morawiecki they left: Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs Beata Szydło; Minister of Family, Labor and Social Policy Elżbieta Rafalska; head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration, Joachim Brudziński; head of the Ministry of National Education, Anna Zalewska; Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Beata Kemp; government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcińska.

The election locomotives “will reach the European Parliament, unhook the wagons and return to Poland.” Is that possible?

On the other hand, theories have appeared on social media according to which ministers are running only to increase the chances of given parties – and after the elections, they will resign from their mandate as MEPs and return to work in the government. Internet users considered: “That's not the point this time. We need so-called electoral 'locomotives' to push the results. I wouldn't rule out that after the elections some people will resign from their mandate and return to work in the government”; “These are election locomotives. When they reach the European Parliament, they will detach the wagons and return to Poland”; “The locomotives will determine the result, but they do not have to accept the mandate, so they will return to the Sejm and their positions, and the next ones from the list will be included. It would be a perverse, but very effective plan” (original spelling of the posts).

Posts with theory about “election locomotives” published on April 24 and 25, 2024Concrete 24

Is this scenario even possible? The ministers and deputy ministers currently running are also members of the Sejm. We explain when they will lose their mandate in connection with the European elections, whether they may not accept the mandate to the European Parliament after winning, and whether they will then be able to return to their position in the government and the Polish Sejm.

The Electoral Code and elections to the European Parliament: when the mandate of an MP/senator expires

At the beginning it should be noted that “the mandate of a Member of the European Parliament cannot be combined with holding the mandate of a Member of the Sejm or a Senator” – this is stated in Article 334, paragraph 1 Electoral Code. However, in par. 2 it is written: “A Member of the European Parliament cannot be at the same time a member of the Council of Ministers or a Secretary of State in the Republic of Poland and hold positions or perform functions which, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland or laws, cannot be combined with holding the mandate of a member of the Sejm or a senator. “. This means that an MEP can no longer be a member of either the Polish parliament or the government.

However, the Electoral Code does not describe the procedure for accepting the mandate of an MEP. The Code only describes the procedure for expiring the mandate of a Member of Parliament or Senator of the Republic of Poland when a given person has been elected to the European Parliament. In art. 247 we read that the mandate of a Member of Parliament expires in the event of “election as a Member of the European Parliament during the term of office” (par. 1, point 7). Paragraph 5 clarifies that expiry of the mandate MP appointed or elected during the term of office as, among others, a Member of the European Parliament occurs on the date of appointment or election. The same is true for senators, councilors and city leaders.

Professor Andrzej Szmyt, a constitutional lawyer from the University of Gdańsk, explained in the “Constitutional Observer”: “As we know from practice, the official result of general elections is usually not known on the day of voting, it is not known who was elected. Theoretically, two different statutory interpretations are possible concept of 'election day' – it will be either the day of the election (voting) or the day of announcing the election results. According to prof. Szmyta, “in practice, only the day of the official announcement of the results actually allows for a change of status.” This thesis is confirmed, for example, by the decision of the then Speaker of the Sejm, Marek Kuchciński, who, after the parliamentary elections on May 26, 2019 stated the expiration on May 28 – that is, when the announcement of the National Electoral Commission on the election results was announced in the “Journal of Laws” – the mandate of MP Beata Szydło, who received mandate to the European Parliament.

How we described in Konkret24 on the occasion of the 2019 European Parliament elections, the expiry of the mandate of deputies is decided by the Marshal of the Sejm (in the case of senators, the Marshal of the Senate, and in the case of councilors – the electoral commissioner) in a special decision published in the “Journal of Laws”.

In the Electoral Code there is no question of “accepting” the mandate of a Member of the European Parliament.

The procedure for the expiry of the mandate of a parliamentarian who became an MEP during the term of office of the Sejm or Senate is specified in Art. 250 of the Electoral Code:

Par. 1. Decision of the Marshal of the Sejm on the expiry of the mandate of a deputy for the reasons specified in Art. 247 par. 1 points 2-7 together with the justification shall be delivered to the Member of Parliament immediately. The MP has the right to appeal against the decision to the Supreme Court within 3 days from the date of delivery of the decision. The appeal is submitted through the Speaker of the Sejm.

The Supreme Court has seven days to decide. Theoretically, a parliamentarian dissatisfied with his election to the European Parliament could appeal against the Marshal's decision – but this would be rather illogical and inconsistent with his previous consent to stand as a candidate in the European elections.

Is it possible to resign from the European Parliament and return to the Sejm?

Can I give up my mandate after the European Parliament elections? Yes, the Electoral Code in Art. 363 allows for the possibility of renouncing such a mandate:

The mandate of a Member of the European Parliament expires in the event of: 1) death; 2) resignation from the mandate.

Only that In order to be able to resign from the European mandate, an MP elected in the European elections must first obtain a decision from the Speaker of the Sejm, in which he confirms that he has obtained a mandate to the European Parliament. And this decision also includes a decision to simultaneously expire its national mandate. This means that even if a given politician resigns from the mandate to the European Parliament, there will be no way back for him to serve in the Sejm of the Republic of Poland of the current term.

Is it possible to resign from the EP mandate and return to the government?

The situation is different for ministers and secretaries of state (deputy ministers) who are seeking election to the European Parliament. As Dr. Mateusz Radajewski from the Faculty of Law and Social Communication at SWPS University in Wrocław explains to Konkret24, the provisions regarding the expiry of the mandate of a Member of the European Parliament will apply in this case, especially Art. 364 par. 1 point 2 and par. 2 of the Electoral Code.

Par. 1. The mandate of a Member of the European Parliament shall be lost in the event of: (…) 2) holding a position or performing functions referred to in the provisions of Art. 333* and art. 334 par. 2**;

“To embrace [mandat w PE], the minister must, within 14 days from the announcement of the election results, submit to the Speaker of the Sejm a declaration of resignation from performing his current functions. This means, among other things, that the minister may not accept the mandate obtained in the European elections and retain his current position in the country,” explains Dr. Radajewski. Of course, if he has not previously submitted his resignation from the position of minister, which has been accepted. If he has, the decision may belong to the prime minister.

As the portal wrote on the occasion of the previous European elections praw.pl: “After voting and the announcement of the official election results by the National Electoral Commission, official communication takes place from the Chancellery of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland to the European Parliament, where information is provided that a given person has become an MEP. – Elected MEPs are not fully aware that they may not accept the mandate for EP, but you must first wait for official communication from the Sejm – says Piotr Maciej Kaczyński” [wykładowca Europejskiego Instytutu Administracji Publicznej EIPA]. He explained that “new MEPs have been elected, so there is their implicit consent to sit in the EP.” But – the portal explained – from the point of view of the European Parliament, new MEPs have time until the start of the new term of office of the European Parliament to announce whether they are resigning from their mandate.

In this situation, the Marshal of the Sejm, based on information from the National Electoral Commission, notifies the next candidate from the same electoral list for the European Parliament, who received the highest number of votes in the election, of his priority for the mandate. He, in turn, has seven days to decide whether he will take up the European mandate.

European Parliament elections will take place on Sunday, June 9.

Main photo source: Marcin Obara, Piotr Polak, Marcin Obara/PAP

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