The draft resolution on changes to the Rules of the Sejm was adopted on Tuesday by the Sejm’s statute, parliamentary and immunity committees without replacement. The Commission did not agree to the opposition’s proposed rejection of the bill at first reading, as well as the introduction of four amendments. Amendments to the rules of the chamber, proposed by MPs from the Law and Justice party, concern proceedings in cases of extraordinary measures.
On Friday, the Sejm was submitted by PiS deputies, draft resolution on changes to the rules of the chamber. It assumes, inter alia, that the Sejm will vote on the motion to extend the extraordinary state by a simple majority of votes. According to the draft, during the debate, it will also not be possible to submit formal 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.
On Tuesday, the draft resolution was dealt with by the Sejm’s statute committee, parliamentary matters and immunity committee. Proposals for changes were presented by PiS MP Jarosław Zieliński.
PiS MP: the draft resolution aims to fill a gap in the regulations
The deputy argued the need for changes due to the fact that there are no regulations in the Rules of Procedure of the Sejm 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.
– The draft resolution that we submitted to the high-ranking Sejm is intended to fill this gap. Until now, states of emergency under the rule of the present constitution have not been introduced, but life has brought new situations and created a need therefore (to establish – ed.) The procedure of the Sejm’s conduct in relation to states of emergency – he said.
Zieliński said that in line with the proposed changes, consideration by the Sejm of the president’s decree on the introduction of martial law or a state of emergency will take place immediately after their submission to the Sejm. Requests by the president or the Council of Ministers for approval to extend a state of emergency or a state of natural disaster are also to be dealt with immediately.
As the PiS MP said, the requirement of urgency is justified by the fact that the extension of the extraordinary measures may only take place after the consent of the Sejm. – So the Seym should consider these requests during this originally introduced state of emergency – he continued. He pointed out that the consent of the Sejm is “prior, not subsequent”.
Zieliński on the impossibility of postponing or closing a sitting of the Sejm
The Law and Justice MP also defended the legitimacy of the provisions that in the debate on the introduction or extension of the state of emergency it will not be possible to submit applications to adjourn or close the meeting. – If such an application could be submitted and it would be approved, it could paralyze the whole state of affairs, because the Sejm would not have had time to consider this application (for extension – ed.) Before the expiry of the period for which the state of emergency was introduced – argued Zieliński.
As he said, the repeal of the emergency regulation will require an absolute majority of votes. – Applications for the approval of the Sejm to extend the state of emergency (…) – state of emergency and state of natural disaster – the Sejm will decide by a simple majority of votes in the presence of at least half of the statutory number of deputies. In this case, there is no constitutional requirement of an absolute majority of votes – said Zieliński.
He argued that in this context, introducing the requirement of an absolute majority of votes would increase the constitutional requirements, and in the draft amendments “there is no reduction of the requirements”.
Member of the Left: taking the easy way
Katarzyna Kotula, deputy of the Left, admitted that there is no constitutional requirement to vote on the extension of the state of emergency. “But what you’re trying to encourage us to do here today is just take the easy way,” Kotula said.
She said that the government and PiS had done nothing to convince the opposition that the introduction of the state of emergency was justified, and now it was necessary to extend it. – What happened yesterday, but also what has been happening at the border in recent days and weeks, means that we, as a club of the Left, will certainly not support this proposal (…). I am against the change of the regulations – said Kotula.
She drew attention to the dramatic situation of people on the Polish-Belarusian border, said that women and children were dying, and migrants were presented in a very negative light. Kotula recalled that journalists were not allowed to stay in the border area where the state of emergency is in force.
KO deputy on “the real reason for submitting the draft amendment to the Regulations of the Sejm”
Tomasz Głogowski from the Civic Coalition assessed that the essence of the proposed changes to the Rules of the Sejm is that PiS assumes that it may have a problem with gaining a majority in voting. – And this is the real reason for submitting the draft amendment to the Rules of the Sejm, and not an attempt to literally stick to something that is or is not in the constitution – said the deputy KO.
He judged that the amendment to the Sejm’s regulations was intended to prevent journalists from being on the Polish-Belarusian border by a simple majority of votes. He stated that he was against changes in the chamber’s rules of procedure.
Civic Coalition motion to reject the project without support
Another MP from KO Jarosław Urbaniak also criticized the draft resolution. He said that there was no need to introduce changes to the Regulations of the Sejm. Urbaniak submitted a motion to reject the draft resolution in its entirety, but it did not receive the support of the majority of the committee’s deputies.
Zbigniew Dolata (PiS) said to the opposition deputies that they did not care about the safety of Poles. – You show that if you ruled, Poles could tremble for their future (…). Your speeches are against the interests of our country – he said. Dolata expressed his conviction that the draft amendments to the Rules of the Sejm would enter into force.
Four Polish amendments 2050 rejected. Unchanged draft approved by the committee
Most of the committees also rejected four amendments proposed by Wojciech Maksymowicz from the Polska 2050 circle. One of them assumed that the Sejm would consider the regulation on the state of emergency within three days of receiving it.
In another amendment, Maksymowicz also argued that the deputies should not be deprived of the right to submit motions to interrupt, adjourn or close a meeting in the course of the examination of the regulation on the introduction of a state of emergency or an application for its extension. In another amendment, he argued that the Sejm should consent to the extension of the extraordinary state by an absolute majority of votes.
The members of the committee accepted only the editorial comments of the representatives of the Legislative Office.
Eight deputies voted in favor of adopting the entire draft of amendments to the Rules of the Sejm without amendments, six were against, and no one abstained from voting.
A state of emergency at the Polish border with Belarus
A state of emergency has been in force since September 2 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.
President on Tuesday Andrzej Duda announced that when he received the government’s request for the extension of the emergency, will refer him to the Sejm. – It seems that the introduction of a state of emergency for the next 60 days will be justified – he said.
The next three-day session of the Sejm is planned on 29 and 30 September and 1 October. The period of the state of emergency in the border zone with Belarus ends on October 1.
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 regulation on the introduction of martial law or a state of emergency shall be presented to the Sejm by the President of the Republic 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 eliminate 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: Grand Warszawski / Shutterstock.com