On May 3, an assembly of Polish and Lithuanian MPs and senators with the participation of Presidents Andrzej Duda and Gitanas Nauseda will mark the 230th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of 3rd May, the Sejm (Lower House) Information Centre announced on Monday.
According to the special resolution adopted on that occasion, the parliaments of both states, stressing the exceptional importance of the Act of 1791, “pay tribute to the heritage of modern constitutionalism.”
After a stormy debate, on May 3, 1791, the Sejm adopted by acclamation a government act, which went down in history as the Constitution of May 3. It was the second act in the world and the first in Europe regulating the organisation of state authorities, as well as the rights and obligations of citizens.
The purpose of the government act was to save the Commonwealth, whose parts of territory were annexed by Prussia, Austria and Russia in 1772 in a joint action called the First Partition of Poland. The document was adopted at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
However, the Constitution did not really work as some of the Polish noble class, in line with neighbouring powers, especially the Russian Empire, opposed it. The result of that was the final partitioning of Poland in 1795, when the country had lost its independence for 123 years.