Poland Government and Politics
According to AllCityCodes.com, Poland is a democratic unity state. It was passed in a new constitution in 1997. The head of state is a president, elected directly in the general election for five years, with the possibility of one re-election. Before that, Poland was a republic from 1918 and a communist and Soviet- dominated people’s republic from 1945 to 1989.
The president has executive functions, especially in security and foreign policy matters, but there has been some rivalry between the president and the prime minister. The Prime Minister is nominated by the President and must be approved by the Sejm.
The national Assembly
Legislative authority has been added to a national assembly consisting of Sejm (Second Chamber) and a Senate (First Chamber). Sejm has 460 members and is elected in general elections both from single -person circles and according to the ratio method; two of the seats are reserved for the German minority. The Senate has 100 members elected from the counties in general elections by majority vote. Both chambers are selected simultaneously and for four years. Sejm is the main chamber. The Senate goes through resolutions passed by Sejm and may propose amendments, but Sejm can implement its will by a two-thirds majority. The government is based on Sejm and is accountable to it. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of PL and its meanings of Poland.
The justice sector
After the Polish state was restored in 1918, after being under Russian supremacy, long legal inequality prevailed. Former Russian, German and Austro-Hungarian law was still applicable in the regions concerned. During the inter-war period, justice was worked, and the court was codified to a significant extent. After the Second World War, the legal system was reworked and reorganized in conjunction with the political new regime under the influence of Soviet law, before it was again changed and democratized after 1989. The death penalty was abolished in 1997.
The judiciary is ordinarily exercised by a series of courts of three courts: the Supreme Court of Warsaw, the appeals courts in the counties (also the first instance courts in serious cases) and the courts (district courts). The Supreme Court judges are appointed by the President on a proposal from the National Judicial Council. The Supreme Court has oversight of the other courts. There is also a Constitutional Court, headed by the Supreme Court’s First President; the judges are elected by Sejm for nine years.
After the Party of Law and Justice (PiS) gained a pure majority in the parliamentary elections on October 25, 2015, Sejm passed a new constitutional law, signed by President Andrzej Duda December 29, 2015. According to the new law, decisions by the court require two-thirds majority, whereas in the past a simple majority was sufficient. It is also required that at least 13 of the 15 judges be present in the handling of controversial cases, while at least nine judges were previously sufficient.
The new law has been criticized by, among others, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and the Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland. On March 9, 2016, the Constitutional Court ruled that the new law does not comply with the country’s constitution. In agreement with Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, the new law was reviewed by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. For information on this commission, see the article on the Council of Europe.
According to the Commission’s report, published on March 11, 2016, the changes in law could lead to a weakening of the Constitutional Court’s effectiveness, which could undermine the rule of law, democracy and human rights in Poland. The Venice Commission appealed to the government and opposition parties in Poland to come up with a solution to this case, allowing the court to operate effectively.
Following the European Commission’s discussion of this matter in January 2016, the European Parliament adopted on 13 April 2016 a resolution with the voting numbers 513 for, 142 against and 30 abstentions. In the resolution, which states that the new law has led to paralysis of the Constitutional Court, the European Parliament supports the conclusions of the Venice Commission. EU Vice President Frans Timmermann and Prime Minister Beata Szydło held talks in Warsaw April 24, 2016 on this case. Following the talks, Szydło stated that the rule of law will be upheld, while at the same time the government’s aim is that the work of the Constitutional Court should be “open and effective”. However, the European Commission believes that the Polish government has not taken the necessary measures to make the Constitutional Court work as intended.
At the initiative of the government, a law was introduced in July 2017 to reduce the retirement age of the country’s judges from 70 to 65 years. This has led to opposition and criticism from the European Commission, which fears that the government will replace the judges who have to step down with judges who support the ruling party. The fear is that this will weaken the independence of the courts. The European Commission has also expressed concern that the Minister of Justice is also the country’s attorney general. Against this backdrop, the European Commission has asked Poland to reverse the judiciary reform, as the reform represents an attack on democracy’s principle of power distribution with an executive, a legislative and a judicial power. The Polish government has rejected this, claiming that the European Commission is acting politically. In February 2020, President Andrzej Duda passed a law,Sejm, which makes it forbidden for judges to criticize the government’s judicial reform.
On 27 February 2020, the Norwegian government expressed concern about the development of the rule of law and the independence of the courts in Poland. This development has had consequences for the agreement with Poland in the justice sector, financed with EEA funds, see the article Poland’s relations with Norway.
Poland is divided into 16 counties (województwo), see the article Counties in Poland. The counties are again divided into 308 districts. At the last level is the elected council that selects representatives for the county assemblies.
Political leaders in Poland
Overview of heads of state, partisans and prime ministers in Poland.
Heads of state
Heads of State in Poland from 1918:
|1918-1920||Ignacy Jan Paderewski|
|1939-1947||Władysław Raczkiewicz (in exile)|
|1985-1990||Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski|
Communist Party leaders 1943-1990:
|1981-1989||Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski|
Prime Ministers of Poland from 1945:
|1981-1985||Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski|
|1991||Jan Krzysztof Bielecki|
|2007-2014||Donald Franciszek Tusk|
|2014-2015||Ewa Bożena Kopasz|