The State Electoral Commission (PKW) has approved the election schedule which enables the first round of the presidential election to be called for Sunday June 28. The second round run-off between the top two candidates, should no candidate get more than 50 percent of the vote, will take place on Sunday July 12.
The Speaker of Parliament Elżbieta Witek confirmed on Wednesday that the election date and the race for President begins, once again. The election had been called for May 10 but was not held following wrangling on changes to the electoral code and arguments within the ruling block as well as with the opposition over whether it would have been safe to have held it in May.
The holding of the election on June 28 will enable the whole process of electing the president and the validation of the result by the Supreme Court to be completed by the time the term of office of the current presidency terminates on August 6. That in turn ensures that there is no vacancy in the office of President on that date.
The election schedule
The new election schedule gives any potential new candidate until Friday June 5 to register an election committee and until Wednesday June 10 to collect the necessary 100,000 signatures of voters to actually appear on the ballot. All the candidates who registered for the voided May 10 poll have automatically qualified for the June 28 election. Voters will have the choice of voting at polling stations or by post.
The largest opposition party, the Civic Platform (PO) has changed its presidential candidate and will therefore have to collect 100,000 signatures for its new candidate, Warsaw mayor Rafał Trzaskowski. It is unlikely that any other significant new candidate will appear in the election.
The registered candidates election committees will have until June 12 to put forward candidates for participation in electoral precinct committees which will make the elections operational and count the votes. These precinct committees will be constituted on June 15.
For Poles living abroad they will have until June 13 to register to vote with their consulates. For domestic voters they will have until June 16 to apply for a postal vote.
The PKW will have until June 21 to decide in which municipalities voting may be restricted to being by post only. That decision will be taken on advice of the Health minister and will only be taken for epidemiological reasons.
Postal votes will need to be returned by post by Friday June 26. However voters may take their postal ballot to the polling station and cast their votes on June 28, if they miss that deadline for return of ballot by post.
Voting will take place between 7.00 and 21.00 on Sunday 28 June. The Post office will have to supply electoral precinct committees with postal votes for counting with the other ballots after 21.00 on election day.
Speaker of the Senate steps up the pressure
Senate Speaker of the opposition controlled second chamber, Tomasz Grodzki, stepped up the pressure on the ruling party on Wednesday by saying that he found it hard to see how the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) would be able to continue in government if it had both the Senate and the President against it. In this way he confirmed the narrative of the ruling party that a defeat for it could lead to instability and early parliamentary elections.
The Senate Speaker’s remarks were also somewhat in contradiction to the words of the PO’s presidential candidate Rafał Trzaskowski who at the weekend made a point of saying that he would not set out to confront the government. The opposition will be keen to avoid being seen as wanting to cause an early parliamentary election, even though many of their hard core supporters would be happy to see such a turn of events and the Senate Speaker’s remarks may be targeted at mobilising them.
The ruling party however will seize on the Senate Speaker’s remarks as evidence that the opposition wants confrontation and not cohabitation. The thought of early elections and loss of power by PiS will be used to mobilise its vote for the presidential election.
The incumbent President Andrzej Duda’s lead in the opinion polls has slipped of late due to a rejuvenated campaign of the main opposition candidate, Rafał Trzaskowski which has led opposition voters to declare their intention to participate. But the President is still ahead and remains the candidate to beat in this election.