EP adopts pandemic resolution including criticism of Polish ballot plan

2020-04-17 19:28 update: 2020-04-19, 16:44
The European Parliament (EP) in a remote vote on Friday adopted a resolution on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, with provisions criticising Poland's plan to hold presidential elections in May.

The document, passed in a 395 to 171 vote with 128 abstentions, includes a chapter on Poland's rule of law in which MEPs regret the speedy changes of new election rules made by the Polish government to enable the presidential ballot amid the pandemic, in breach of the country's Constitutional Tribunal verdict. It said that Poland's ruling party's determination to go ahead with the elections despite the spreading coronavirus may threaten the lives of Polish citizens and undermine the concept of free and equal elections, and that voting must be in person by secret ballot, as provided for in the Polish constitution. 

The text of the resolution was agreed by the four major EP parties, the European People's Party, Socialists and Democrats, as well as the Liberals and the Greens. The draft was called "outrageous" by the country's ruling party Law and Justice's delegation in the European Parliament.

"The inclusion of the issue of Poland's postal ballot in the draft resolution on the fight against pandemics is another manifestation of Poland's stigmatisation by the EU, and the draft itself is outrageous," the PIS delegation in the EP said in a statement sent to the media earlier on Friday.

PiS MEPs acknowledged in their statement that an immediate and EU-coordinated action is needed to enable citizens and economies of Member States to mitigate the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. At the same time they added they "deeply regret that this otherwise legitimate initiative has turned into (...) a document that expresses the constant obsessions of the European Parliament and the majority that governs the European Union." 

In their view, it is difficult to explain how the resolution on combating the effects of Covid-19 included provisions on Poland's rule of law and the planned presidential elections.

The Polish Sejm (lower house) in an accelerated procedure on April 6 passed a law making the May 10 presidential election an all-postal vote.(PAP)