Poland clears postal voting for presidential election

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s lower house of parliament gave the green light on Thursday for a presidential election to be held by postal vote following a dispute over whether the vote could take place during the coronavirus pandemic.

The election was scheduled to take place on Sunday but the opposition said the ruling nationalist party, Law and Justice (PiS), would be putting political gain ahead of public health if it went ahead on that date.

PiS and its junior coalition partner, Accord, reached an agreement on Wednesday on postponing the election in anticipation that the Supreme Court will declare election planned for Sunday are not valid so new date could be announced.

Though the Sejm, or lower house of parliament, approved legislation allowing a postal vote, the timing of the vote still remains unclear, with PiS saying on Thursday that June was now the earliest date it could take place.

“Yesterday we worked out a solution which is good for Poland, which guarantees safe, fully democratic and transparent elections,” Accord party leader Jaroslaw Gowin told reporters on Thursday before the parliamentary vote.

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While there was a sense of relief among many Poles that the nation would not be forced into an election during the coronavirus pandemic, government critics said it was unclear what legal basis PiS had to cancel Sunday’s vote.

PiS and its ally have said they anticipated that the Supreme Court would void the vote and that the parliamentary speaker would then announce a new date. Critics have said that could violate election rules.

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