In a week or two, after I become familiar with the data on the course of the disease incidence, I will be able to issue recommendations on the presidential elections, said the Minister of Health Łukasz Szumowski on Monday.
"We do not know what will happen in May. My recommendations, as the Health Minister and as a doctor will be based on data, on infected numbers, on epidemic risk," he pointed out.
State of emergency not needed now: President
“In my opinion, there is no need at the moment to declare a state of natural disaster or a state of emergency (two out of three conditions, along with martial law, that allow for postponing the elections); in the wake of the epidemic. Appropriate actions are being carried out in this field in compliance with the regulations in force,” said President Andrzej Duda on Monday during a Q&A session on Facebook.
“The state is doing well, based on those resources that are currently available and I do not see the need here to implement any extraordinary measures,” he added.
He stressed that he constantly stays in touch with the Prime Minister and his cabinet, including the Health Minister, as well as with the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate head regarding the state of logistics in hospitals and shops in terms of personal protective equipment.
As regards the opposition's postulate of postponing the presidential election, he replied that “if there were no conditions for holding elections in May, then they should not be held,” as his priority will always be "the life and health of Polish citizens". He pointed out that current conditions allow for going to the shops normally, so “then there are also conditions to go to the polling station, of course by taking appropriate precautions". The President stressed that more and more activity related to the campaign takes place on the Internet, so it is not impossible for candidates to campaign.
President Duda also called the recently adopted amendment to the Electoral Code, enabling postal voting for those in quarantine and those over 60 years of age as “pro-turnout”. The opposition has argued that they are discriminatory because they provide for postal votes only for seniors and those in quarantine, rather than for all voters.
Elections: hold as planned, or postpone?
The presidential elections in Poland are scheduled for May 10, the opposition wants to change this date. Similar voices have been raised by the representatives of local authorities, who in the close future have to begin preparations for organising the elections, including the training for the electoral committees’ members.
However, it is not only the members of the opposition who back the idea of postponing the elections. On Friday, the Deputy PM Jarosław Gowin admitted that the presidential elections would not be easy to reschedule. In his opinion, holding them in the autumn may not be a good solution, as epidemiologists warn of a possible second wave of the coronavirus epidemic.
In his opinion, a fair solution would be to organise the elections in spring 2021.
This view was shared by the Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education Prof. Wojciech Maksymowicz. According to him, there is no possibility of holding elections in May this year. He was seconded by the Development Minister Jadwiga Emilewicz.
"There are more infections than we expected. This causes us to share the belief that the possibility of holding elections at the scheduled time is hard to imagine," she stated.
Voices from academic circles
“We appeal to those in power to use reasonable judgment, which will result in holding presidential elections in conditions that will ensure total security,” says a resolution of the Senate of the Medical University of Warsaw, which recommends that elections not be held on May 10.
"As professionals in the field of healthcare we are fully aware of the possibilities and efficiency of our medical services, which have never faced such big challenges. Even the most prosperous countries of Europe and the world have serious problems with the epidemic", the resolution stated.
The faculty also thanked health professionals for their work during the epidemic.