The Constitution of the Republic of Poland places real authority in the hands of the prime minister. The proper use of that power enables him to 'spur' the Cabinet into action and to provide its continuous operation. As chief of government he determines the internal structure of the Council of Ministers and is responsible for control and coordination of the work of its members. He also makes efforts to maintain parliamentary majority support by the government. The tasks and responsibilities of the prime minister include matters related to operation of the Cabinet and a formal conclusion of its mission. He has an exclusive competence to submit to the Sejm a motion requiring a vote of confidence in the Council of Ministers (Article 160 of the Constitution) and to submit the resignation of the Council of Ministers in cases specified in Article 162 of the Constitution. Consequently, the prime minister plays the role of guarantor of the Council of Ministers itself and the constitutional system of governance. One can easily imagine a situation where unexpected and permanent absence of the prime minister causes considerable disruption in the work of the government and functioning of the system of governance. The Constitution of the Republic of Poland does not regulate the issue of replacement of the prime minister in the event of his temporary absence or his temporary failure to perform the duties of the chief of government. Moreover, the constitutional provisions do not specify any procedure in the event of permanent incapacity to continue the performance of the function of the prime minister as a result of a random incident (e.g. the death). In that context, one must conclude that the existing Constitution does not provide for explicit provisions to ensure the continuous management of the work of the government. From the perspective of the prime minister's unexpected and permanent incapacity to perform his duties (or his death), the provisions of the Act of 1996 on the Council of Ministers should be considered insufficient. This results from the fact that the above-mentioned provisions establish the principle of 'appointment' of the person to replace the prime minister instead of the replacement based on the rule 'by the operation of law'. Therefore, the Constitution should contain the provisions specifying the matters relating to replacement of the prime minister and procedures applied by the government in the event of permanent incapacity of the prime minister to perform his duties. It is only by way of amendment of the constitution that this important problem of organic law. When making an attempt to resolve the issue, one must draw on the constitutional principles of the chancellor's system. The acceptance of this approach would require, firstly, that in Article 147 of the Constitution a deputy prime minister be established as an obligatory category of members of the government and, secondly, that a new principle be introduced in the constitution according to which the removal of the prime minister from office, for any reason, would by the operation of law result in the end of the Cabinet's mission.
Martin Bozek, Wydzial Ekonomiczny Politechniki Radomskiej, Katedra Prawa, 26-600 Radom, ul. Chrobrego 31
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