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English Section

UPDATE: Poland’s presidential elections deferred amid epidemic

06.05.2020 23:31
Poland’s presidential elections, which had been due to take place on May 10 amid a coronavirus epidemic, will be held at a later date by postal ballot, the heads of two parties in the country’s ruling coalition said late on Wednesday.
Jarosław Kaczyński in parliament on Wednesday
Jarosław Kaczyński in parliament on Wednesday Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

The declaration signalled that the two leaders had reached a compromise in a row that had divided the governing coalition. Their stand-off had sparked a warning that Poland could face a political crisis and might need hold an early election to the legislature.

The two leaders added in a statement that the Speaker of Poland’s lower house “will announce new presidential elections on the first possible date.”

The statement was issued jointly by Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, and Jarosław Gowin, whose grouping is a junior partner in the governing coalition.

The presidential election would be held via a postal ballot, the statement added.

Law and Justice had wanted the election to go ahead this month, arguing that a postal ballot would keep voters safe amid the coronavirus.

But Gowin came out against the idea, a move which raised the prospect that the governing coalition would not be able to muster enough votes to secure parliamentary approval for a mail-in presidential ballot.

Amid the uncertainty, the prime minister's chief of staff said earlier on Wednesday that Poland might need to dissolve parliament and hold an early election to the legislature.

Michał Dworczyk warned that Poland could face “a very serious political crisis” if a bill allowing a postal presidential vote was not passed by deputies.

Opposition politicians have been calling for the presidential election to be pushed back amid the pandemic.

A total of 14,740 people have tested positive for the COVID-19 disease in Poland, with 733 deaths from the coronavirus so far, officials said on Wednesday afternoon.