Polish president proposes vote on new constitution

Polish President Andrzej Duda on Friday presented plans for a non-binding vote on a new constitution to address issues ranging from giving the president greater powers to the supremacy of Polish laws over EU ones.

The right-wing head of state had 10 questions for the proposed November 10-11 referendum, including whether a new constitution should replace the current one adopted in 1997 after Poland peacefully shed communism.

Other issues include if the supremacy of Polish law over EU law should be enshrined and whether the preamble should refer to Poland’s “Christian heritage”.

Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.

The results will not be binding on parliament as a constitutional change needs a two-thirds majority in the lower house.

Voters will also be asked whether to accord more powers to the president or the government and if the current proportional representation electoral system should be maintained or replaced by a “first-past-the-post” system.

The referendum would look at giving constitutional protection to more practical matters like retirement age, family allowances and “Polish agriculture and food security”.

The right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government which took office in 2015 is highly critical of the current constitution drafted by its leftist and liberal political opponents.

But the PiS and its powerful leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is widely seen as Poland’s de facto decision-maker, has yet to endorse Duda’s bid to draft a new constitution.

It is up to the Senate to decide whether to proceed with Duda’s referendum proposal.

The upper house could review it during a sitting scheduled for next week.



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