BICAMERALISM UNDER THE CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM OF THE THIRD REPUBLIC OF POLAND (Dwuizbowosc w systemie konstytucyjnym III Rzeczypospolitej)
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Re-establishment of the Senate in 1989, as a freely-elected chamber of legislature, was intended to constitute the first stage of the transformation of the institutions of the Communist state into democracy. However, the results of the election of June 4th, 1989 followed by the appointment of Tadeusz Mazowiecki's government thwarted those political foundations on which the constitutional concept of bicameralism was based.. Since then, the model of bicameralism has not been changed significantly despite changes of the political situation, and further amendments provided in constitutional acts. The model is based on the principle of identity of electorates of both chambers (universal suffrage) and asymmetry of competences and decisive powers between the Sejm and the Senate. The Sejm has been given a dominant position. The main function of the Senate is to participate in the legislative process. The Senate has the right to initiate bills and the right to either reject as a whole the bill passed by the Sejm or to offer amendments thereto. However, amendments submitted by the Senate is limited to the matters covered by the contents of the bill passed by the Sejm. The Sejm has the power to turn down , by an absolute majority of votes, both the regulation of the Senate rejecting the bill as a whole, and the amendments offered by the Senate. In 2005, the Senate initiated specific kind of legislative initiatives in relation to statutes adopted as a means of implementation of the judgments of the Constitutional Tribunal. From the perspectives of the provisions of the constitution, this initiative does not amount to widening of the scope of competences of this chamber, since it falls into its powers to exercise legislative initiative. Charging this task with the Senate, in practice, has made it possible to fill the gap by the structures of the State as concerns the fulfillment of the requirements of the 'state ruled by law'. Special formula of participation by the Senate is specified by the provisions governing the procedure for amendment of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. Adoption of such amendments requires passing of a bill in the identical wording by both chambers (the Sejm by a two-thirds majority of votes and the Senate by an absolute majority of votes). Nevertheless, the Constitution does not specify the procedure for reaching the identical wording of such a bill. The model of bicameralism existing in Poland excludes the Senate from the process of appointment and dismissal of the government and the exercise of oversight of the government. However, the constitutional provisions, as well as provisions of ordinary statutes, provide for participation of the Senate in appointment other organs of the State, particularly those which, by nature, require independence. The position of the Senate in relation to both the Sejm and the government was strengthened after Poland's accession to the European Union. Another step on this path was the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon which provides for separate participation of every chamber of national parliaments in the decision-making processes of the EU.
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