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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 November 2018

Polish senate vote down president’s referendum bid

Lawmakers defeated a proposal to hold a non-binding plebiscite on the country having a new constitution

Polish President Andrzej Duda proposed the referendum could focus on issues such as giving the president greater powers to the supremacy of Polish laws over EU ones. EPA
Polish President Andrzej Duda proposed the referendum could focus on issues such as giving the president greater powers to the supremacy of Polish laws over EU ones. EPA

Poland’s Senate on Wednesday torpedoed a bid by the president for a non-binding referendum on a new constitution in a move that analysts said underscored tensions within the governing right-wing camp.

Senators voted 10 in favour to 30 against, with 52 abstentions, in the 100-member upper house of parliament that is dominated by the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party.

President Andrzej Duda, a PiS protege, proposed last week that the referendum could focus on issues such as giving the president greater powers to the supremacy of Polish laws over EU ones.

Analysts in Warsaw said on Wednesday that the Senate’s overwhelming rejection of Mr Duda’s idea was meant to let him know that he is not a leading figure in the party.

“It’s about showing him his place; he is a PiS candidate who depends on the party, not a PiS leader who can decide about policy matters,” Warsaw University political analyst Anna Materna Sosnowska said.

“It’s meant to show the president that he doesn’t stand a chance of forming his own political camp” before elections in 2020, she added.

Mr Duda was catapulted into the presidency in 2015 thanks to PiS backing after holding various senior administrative government posts without substantial political clout.

The PiS is controlled by party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is also widely regarded as Poland’s de facto decision-maker, despite only being an MP.

Mr Kaczynski recently said that the PiS would back Mr Duda again in 2020.

Having taken office in 2015, the PiS government is highly critical of the current constitution drafted by its leftist and liberal political opponents.

Under Polish law, it is up to the Senate to decide whether to proceed with presidential proposals.