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Kukiz: It is the opposition that blocks democratic ideas in the Senate. We check

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Paweł Kukiz claims that it was the opposition that “blocked” the bill in the Senate, which lowers the turnout requirement in the local referendum. After the Senate rejected this bill, the Marshal of the Sejm decided to remove this issue from the agenda of the April meeting of the chamber. And since then, nothing has happened about the local referendum act.

Appearing on August 24 in the broadcast “Signals of the Day” on Polish Radio One, Paweł Kukiz spoke about his meetings with PiS president Jarosław Kaczyński. As he said, “nothing indicates that the president withdrew from the arrangements for implementing the demands of Kukiz’15”. Here he mentioned: “change of the electoral law to a mixed model, abolition of immunities for deputies, senators, judges, prosecutors, referendum day in local governments in the middle of the term, further work on the act on local referenda, lowering the threshold, which unfortunately was blocked by the opposition.”

Law and Justice, let me remind you, passed a law together with us lowering the threshold from 30 to 15 percent for local referenda. Well, unfortunately, the opposition, the democratic one in quotation marks, blocked this instrument beneficial for citizens in the Senate.

I explain what manipulation lies behind these words.

Turnout is not 30, but 15 percent.

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Changes in the rules for conducting referendums are one of Paweł Kukiz’s flagship political projects. On October 29, 2021, with the support of PiS deputies, Kukiz’15 sent to the Sejm draft act amending the act on local referendum. He proposed, among others quite radical solution that the referendum is valid “regardless of the number of eligible voters who took part in it”. In other words, those who appeared at the ballot boxes would have the deciding vote. Currently, the required turnout for a local referendum to be valid is 30 percent. entitled to vote.

On November 16, 2021, the project was submitted to the Administration and Internal Affairs Committee and the Local Government and Regional Policy Committee, which started work on it on February 8, 2023. In the meantime, Kukiz’15 reported September 28, 2022 self-correction – withdrew from the provision that the referendum is valid regardless of the number of voters, instead he proposed that the turnout required for validity in a local referendum would not be 30, but 15 percent. The second proposal, related to participation in the referendum, was that in the case of a referendum on the dismissal of a commune head (mayor or president of a city), the turnout would be at least 3/5 of the votes “number of votes donated to the recalled body”. Currently, it is “3/5 of the number of those participating in the election of the recalled body”. In other words, as MP Jarosław Sachajko from the Kukiz’15 circle explained, it would be “3/5 of those who voted for the winner” .

Kukiza project with autocorrect The Sejm passed March 9, 2023, i.e. within a month of the first reading in committees. 232 deputies voted for it, including 210 PiS deputies, 9 from Konfederacja and three Kukiz’15 deputies; 189 were against, including 119 members of the Civic Coalition, 41 of the left and 16… members of the PiS club; 24 members of the Polish Coalition club abstained.

20 days in the Senate

Kukiz’s accusation did not concern the pace of work in the Sejm, but what was happening in the Senate. The bill was sent to the Speaker of the Senate March 10; the chamber with the votes of 50 senators of the KO, PSL, Left and independents decided to reject the bill March 30, i.e. within 20 days – i.e. in less time than the constitutional deadline for decisions of the Senate, which is 30 days. According to the Senate statistics, it is average time to consider laws at the stage of the legislative process in the Senate is 18.8 days – in the case of the Kukiz bill, the Senate did it in 20 days, which is not too far from the average time. So it’s hard to talk about “blocking” the law. The more so that the resolution of the Senate on this matter was submitted by Marshal Tomasz Grodzki to the Marshal of the Sejm on the day after the vote in the Senate – March 31.

The course of the legislative process on the draft amendment to the Local Referendum Act Sejm.gov.pl

By the way, from the beginning of this parliamentary term, i.e. from November 12, 2019 to August 7, 2023, 658 bills were submitted to the Senate; The Senate moved to reject 86 bills, which is 13 percent. – this also contradicts the thesis, repeated by some politicians of the ruling option, about “obstruction” by the Senate, in which the opposition has a majority. We wrote about it in Konkret24.

130 days in the Sejm

The term “blocking” Kukiz’s act can be used for what happened later in the Sejm, where the United Right has a formal majority. The Senate’s veto was considered by the Administration and Internal Affairs Committee and the Local Government and Regional Policy Committee on April 13, i.e. within the time limit within the Sejm’s legislative standards (in the meantime, there was a break in the work of the Sejm, related to the Easter holidays). 17 deputies were in favor of the Senate’s motion, 22 were against it.

Consideration of the committee’s report was to take place at the Sejm session on April 14, of which Marshal Elżbieta Witek informed the deputies that day a few minutes after 5 pm. One and a half hours later, according to from the transcript of the proceedings, Marshal Witek informed the deputies about the removal from the agenda of the item “Report of the Committee on Administration and Internal Affairs and the Committee on Local Government and Regional Policy on the resolution of the Senate on the act amending the act on local referendum”.

Since then, there has been silence over the amendment to the Local Referendum Act in the Sejm. During that time, seven sessions of the Sejm were held, and the Marshal of the Sejm, Elżbieta Witek, who has a decisive voice in determining the agenda, never once submitted a motion to the Sejm committees to override the Senate’s veto to a vote of the entire chamber. From earlier Konkret24 analysis shows that the average time for deputies to consider the Senate’s decisions on bills is 10 days, which in this case means that this time has been exceeded thirteen times.

Because most of it is missing?

An absolute majority of deputies’ votes (i.e. 231 with a 100% turnout) is needed to override the Senate’s veto on an already passed bill. Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that postponing the vote on this matter may be related to the government’s fears that PiS together with Kukiz’15 may not have such a majority. During the discussion in the Senate on the law on the local referendum on March 30, Senator Jan Maria Jackowski (in the past associated with PiS) pointed out that “mayors, mayors and even a few presidents from Law and Justice are not supporters of this solution, which is very well Law and Justice parliamentarians know, because they probably have contact with their local governments, in their area.

It is also worth recalling that on March 9, people voted against the changes in the local referendum act 16 members of the PiS clubwho are currently members of Sovereign Poland. On April 14, that is, on the day when the Sejm was to deal with the Senate’s veto to the Kukiz bill, they organized a press conference at which they demanded that Paweł Kukiz return over four million zlotys of subsidy, which the associated The foundation received the Prime Minister’s decision from the budget reserve. “Solidarna Polska (this was before the creation of the Sovereign Poland party – ed.) will not support this project for substantive reasons and because of the way Paweł Kukiz’s approach looks now. Mr. Paweł Kukiz must give back four million zlotys” – SP spokesman Jacek Dekora said.

Thus, it is not the opposition in the Senate, but the internal opposition in the United Right that is blocking the adoption of the local referendum act.

Main photo source: Radek Pietruszka/PAP

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