CHANGES IN ELECTROLAL LAW INTRODUSED BY THE ELECTION CODE (Zmiany w prawie wyborczym wprowadzone przez kodeks wyborczy)
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The Election Code was adopted on January 5, 2011 and entered into force on August 1, 2011 replacing five existing laws governing elections. It has unified the electoral system and implemented some new solutions aimed at changing considerably the electoral process or providing only an arrangement of the existing regulations. The authors describe and provide assessment of some novelties implemented by the Code, including single-member constituencies in elections to the Senate and in local self-government elections, the requirement for candidates to have no criminal convictions, obligation to apply gender quotas on electoral lists, changes in the election campaigning procedures, possibility of two-day voting, correspondence voting, as well as the powers of international election observers. They discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these institutions, at the same time identifying those solutions which may cause problems in practice. As regards single-member constituencies the authors claim that their introduction in elections to the Senate mostly shows a continued lack of vision for the second chamber and, in relation to local self-government elections, it may tempt municipal councils to determine the boundaries based mostly on the results of elections in former polling districts. Concerning gender quotas, the authors pointed out doubts as to their compliance with several constitutional provisions. Constitutional and interpretative doubts also appear in relation to the provision requiring candidates to have no criminal convictions. Regulations concerning election campaigning are also criticized, showing lack of preciseness of the provisions the Code which may cause a lot of doubts in practice. Discussing the possibility of a two-day voting, the authors conclude that it is no inconsistent with Poland's constitution. They support the idea of correspondence voting for citizens staying abroad and introduction of a statutory basis for activities performed by international election observers. Finally, the authors conclude that the changes introduced in electoral law mostly result from the practice of its application and are of arranging nature; therefore they should rather be approved. However, there are provisions that should be considered as imperfectly prepared, which prove the continued existence of a tendency to treat electoral law as an instrument for political dominance.
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