OFFENCES AGAINST THE NATION-WIDE REFERENDUM ACT
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Nation-wide Referendum Act is the mean by which citizens may exert direct influence on specified State issues. Hence, it is of a key importance for the proper functioning of the political system of a democratic State governed by the rule of law. The article deals with the offences specified in the Nation-wide Referendum Act. The author provides a detailed analysis of four types of offences enumerated in the Act: (1) illegal collection of signatures of support for a motion of a group of citizens being submitted to the Sejm on a nation-wide referendum (Article 83 of the Act); (2) illegal publication of the results of opinion polls on probable referendum results from the end of the referendum campaign until the conclusion of (Article 85 of the Act); (3) violation of the ban on organising lotteries in the course of referendum campaign (Article 86 of the Act) and (4) violation of a ban on serving and supply of alcoholic beverages during such campaign (Article 87 of the Act). When describing each of the offences, the author examines the subject of protection, the content of an offence, the perpetrator of an offence, and the sanctions which may be imposed for violators. He points out inappropriate wording of the provisions of the Act as well as the need for amendment of both the Act and the Penal Code (in particular its Article 248(6)). He stressed the legitimacy of general penalisation of electoral offences, but also proposes the adoption of Electoral Code to replace currently existing provisions. Such a Code could contain (in its general part) provisions concerning the holding of all types of elections and referendums in Poland, as well as penal provisions, and (as specific provisions) necessary distinctions related to particular nature of parliamentary, presidential and local elections and also different kinds of referendums.
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