On Wednesday, the Sejm adopted a draft of changes to the rules of the chamber with one amendment by Law and Justice. Provisions were introduced into the regulations referring to proceedings in the case of extraordinary measures and providing for, inter alia, voting on the motion to extend such a state by a simple majority of votes. Amendments that did not receive support were reported by Confederation and Poland 2050.
On Wednesday, MPs voted in the Sejm a resolution by PiS amending the Sejm Regulations. A chapter was added to the procedure in cases involving extraordinary measures, which provides that the Sejm examines: the president’s decree on the introduction of martial law; president’s decree on the introduction of a state of emergency; the president’s request for consent to extend the state of emergency; application of the Council of Ministers for consent to the extension of the state of natural disaster.
The Sejm will vote on a motion to extend the extraordinary measures by a simple majority of votes, and in the debate on the introduction or extension of the extraordinary measures, it will not be possible to submit motions to adjourn or close the meeting. The state of emergency is, inter alia, the state of emergency. This is the case in part of Poland near the border with Belarus.
The PiS amendment to the draft amendments to the Rules of the Sejm was adopted
It was these provisions that provoked the greatest discussion among MPs both during the first reading at the Tuesday meeting of the Rules of Procedure committee, parliamentary matters and immunities, and during the Wednesday debate in the plenary chamber. During the first and second reading, the opposition submitted amendments deleting the provisions on the impossibility of submitting formal motions and providing that not a simple, but an absolute majority of votes would be needed to extend the state of emergency.
PiS submitted an amendment providing for the extension of the catalog of formal motions which are unacceptable in the debate on the introduction or extension of the state of emergency, for a formal motion to return the motion debated to the committee.
Only the last amendment was finally approved by the vote. 229 MPs voted in favor of the changes to the Sejm’s Rules of Procedure along with the PiS amendment, 214 were against, 1 abstained from voting. The schedule of the chamber’s session shows that on Thursday evening the Sejm will consider the motion of President Andrzej Duda regarding the consent to extend the state of emergency in part of the Podlaskie and Lubelskie voivodeships.
Two readings of the draft amendments to the Regulations of the Sejm
On Tuesday the draft resolution was dealt with by the Sejm’s statutory, deputies’ affairs and immunity committeewhich accepted it without amendment. Earlier on Wednesday, the second reading of the draft took place in the chamber. In connection with the amendments submitted during the parliamentary debate, the draft was referred back to the regulations committee. One amendment, without presenting its content, was proposed by Zbigniew Dolata (PiS).
Artur Dziambor, MP of the Confederation, informed about the tabling of several amendments. The first of them stipulated that “an absolute majority of votes must be present” when introducing a state of emergency. The second assumed the deletion of the point saying that a formal motion may not be introduced to the Sejm’s deliberations. The third amendment provided for the removal of the so-called Sejm freezer. – This freezer allows you not to let certain things on the agenda, the inconvenient ones, so we have a draft here that every law should be allowed four months after the submission, said Dziambor.
Wojciech Maksymowicz (Poland 2050) also reminded about the proposed amendments. They were rejected during Wednesday’s meeting of the rules of procedure. One of them assumes that the Sejm examines the regulation on the state of emergency within three days of receipt. Another assumes that the deputies should not be deprived of the right to submit motions to interrupt, adjourn or close a sitting while the ordinance on the introduction of a state of emergency or an application for its extension is being examined. In the next amendment, Maksymowicz argued that the Sejm should consent to the extension of the extraordinary state by an absolute majority of votes.
Zbigniew Dolata: the extension of the state of emergency is necessary
During the parliamentary debate, MP Dolata, presenting the position of his club, pointed to the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border. He argued that it directly concerns our safety. He said that the pressure on the Polish border was constantly growing and security issues should be excluded from the political dispute. Dolata judged that it was necessary to extend the state of emergency, and for this to happen – as he said – it is necessary to amend the Rules of the Sejm. He asked the opposition to support changes to the Rules of Procedure of the Sejm.
Jarosław Zieliński on a gap in the regulations
Jarosław Zieliński (PiS), a representative of the applicants, said that there was a gap in the Sejm Regulations that needed to be filled. According to him, there are no regulations relating to the participation of the Sejm in the process of introducing and prolonging extraordinary measures, even though the constitution defines such a role for the Sejm. He pointed out that so far emergency states have not been introduced under the present constitution.
KO will vote for minority motions
Tomasz Głogowski (KO) said that the changes underway prove that PiS is aware that it does not have a majority of 231 votes in the Sejm. Hence – as he said – the ruling party wants only a simple majority of votes to extend the state of emergency.
Głogowski said that the narrative that a state of emergency is necessary to ensure border protection is absurd. He added that the purpose of the state of emergency is primarily to prevent journalists from working – collecting and verifying information.
– The Civic Coalition will vote for minority motions submitted in the course of work in the bylaws committee and parliamentary affairs, according to which an absolute majority will be needed to accept the president’s application for consent to the extension of the state of emergency. And also for the application, which removes the ban on submitting formal applications during the processing of such applications – said Głogowski.
– If these motions are not accepted, which is very likely, as shown by the parliamentary arithmetic, we will be against changing the Rules of the Sejm – said the KO deputy.
Katarzyna Kotula: the government wanted to get rid of journalists and organizations helping refugees
Katarzyna Kotula (Left), presenting the position of the Left to changes in the Rules of the Sejm, assessed that the government did not have a majority in the Sejm, hence the decision to amend the rules of procedure. She emphasized that the state of emergency should be extended in the same way as it was introduced, i.e. by an absolute majority of votes. She also assessed that the government, by introducing a state of emergency, wanted to get rid of journalists and organizations helping refugees and migrants from the border areas.
Jan Łopata: We do not agree with this concept of breaking the law
Jan Łopata from the Polish-PSL Coalition assessed that the proposed changes “clearly aim at building a stronger and more complete driving position of today’s ruling coalition, and not at the establishment of timeless regulations”. – That is why we do not agree with this concept of breaking the law – he stressed.
Łopata announced that the peasants would soon present a comprehensive draft of amendments to the Rules of the Sejm. As he argued, he would restore the libertarian functions of the parliament and envisage a reform aimed at ensuring a high standard of legislation, making parliamentary control more realistic and the participation of the Sejm in the policy of Poland’s membership in the European Union.
In turn, Grzegorz Braun from the Confederation announced that PiS could count on the Confederation’s votes when voting on the motion to extend the state of emergency. He also appealed not to “fumble” in the Rules of the Sejm.
A state of emergency at the border between Poland and Belarus
Since September 2, a state of emergency has been in force in the border zone with Belarus, i.e. in part of the Podlaskie and Lubelskie provinces. It covers 183 towns. It was introduced for 30 days under the ordinance of President Andrzej Duda, issued at the request of the Council of Ministers. Government officials justified the need to introduce a state of emergency with the situation on the border with Belarus, where Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime is waging a “hybrid war” and the Russian-Belarusian Zapad military exercises taking place in the first half of September.
There are a number of restrictions on civil rights in the area covered by the state of emergency, and the media, for example, are not allowed to work. All information from this area is communicated to the public by official agents.
The Council of Ministers decided on Tuesday to ask President Andrzej Duda to extend the state of emergency in the border zone with Belarus for 60 days. The president declared Tuesday eveningthat as soon as a motion in this matter is submitted to him, he will apply – in accordance with the provisions of the constitution – to the Seym to grant its consent to the extension of the state of emergency.
State of Emergency Regulations
Article 230 of the Constitution states that in the event of a threat to the constitutional system of the state, the security of citizens or public order, the President of the Republic, at the request of the Council of Ministers, may introduce, for a specified period, not longer than 90 days, a state of emergency in part or throughout the territory of the state. The extension of a state of emergency may take place only once, with the consent of the Sejm, and for a period not longer than 60 days.
Pursuant to Art. 231 of the Constitution, the President of the Republic presents the regulation on the introduction of martial law or a state of emergency to the Sejm within 48 hours of signing the regulation. The Sejm may revoke them by an absolute majority of votes in the presence of at least half of the statutory number of deputies.
Article 232 states that in order to prevent the effects of natural disasters or technical failures bearing the hallmarks of a natural disaster and to remove them, the Council of Ministers may introduce a state of natural disaster for a specified period, not longer than 30 days, in part or throughout the territory of the state. This status may be extended with the consent of the Sejm.
Main photo source: PAP / Mateusz Marek