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Parliamentary elections in 2023. Holding a referendum together with voting for the Sejm and the Senate. Sebastian Gajewski and Tomasz Słomka comment

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I regret that the institution of the referendum is again reduced to very political instruments – said Tomasz Słomka, a political scientist from the University of Warsaw, in “Fakty po Faktach” on TVN24. It referred to the possibility of holding a referendum and parliamentary elections on the same day. Doctor habilitated Sebastian Gajewski, a lawyer from the Ignacy Daszyński Center, said that then we would have to deal with “a gigantic burden on the election administration”.

President Andrzej Duda announced that the vote in elections parliamentary meetings will take place on 15 October.

Important dates for the next 67 days. This is what the election calendar looks like

The guests of “Fakty po Faktach” – Sebastian Gajewski, PhD, a lawyer from the Ignacy Daszyński Center, and Tomasz Słomka, PhD, political scientist from the University of Warsaw – discussed the situation in which a referendum on migrants would also be held on the day of the parliamentary elections.

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At the beginning of July, the majority of the Sejm adopted an amendment to the law on the national referendum, which is to enable the referendum to be held on the same day as the parliamentary, presidential or European Parliament elections by, above all, standardizing voting hours, i.e. from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The intention to hold the referendum together with the parliamentary elections on October 15 confirmed Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

“A gigantic burden on the electoral administration”

Gajewski said that if there were elections and a referendum at the same time, “there will certainly be organizational and technical difficulties, because it is such a huge burden on the electoral administration, all entities – from the National Electoral Commission, through district electoral commissions, precinct commissions elections”. He pointed out that “they will have to organize the vote in one day, in the elections to the Sejm, in the elections to the Senate and in the referendum, to count the votes, determine them, draw up protocols, plus organize everything from a purely technical point of view.”

According to Gajewski, there is “not only a political reason” for the ruling party’s decision to hold a referendum on election day. – We have an election campaign, there is something like a funding limit in the election campaign, the last election campaign, 2019, is a campaign in which the largest electoral committees basically spent all the money they could (…), and if there is a parallel campaign referendum, then next to the election campaign, with this harsh financial economy, (…), it will be possible to conduct a referendum campaign – explained the representative of the Ignacy Daszyński Center.

– Political parties can take part in it, they can spend money on it, it is enough for it to concern matters related to the referendum – he pointed out.

Jarosław Kaczyński among PiS deputies in the SejmPiotr Nowak/PAP

“Reducing the referendum to the role of a populist toy”

– I regret one thing above all, that the institution of the referendum is once again reduced to a set of very political instruments – said Tomasz Słomka, habilitated doctor.

He pointed out that “the referendum was conceived as something that is supposed to be a serious consideration of the most important matters for the state.” – Meanwhile, we have a kind of referendum game. After all, in 2015, the referendum, which was conducted on the initiative of President Komorowski, had a similar formula. Apart from the fact that the first question was unconstitutional, because it asked about something that is a constitutional solution – reminded Słomka.

In his opinion, “this is reducing the referendum to the role of a populist toy that is used when there is simply a political need.”

Main photo source: Piotr Nowak/PAP

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