The European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France, 23 November 2022. EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND


European Parliament wants Polish elections overseen


The European Parliament has opened up another front in the conflict between Poland and European Union institutions.

The Strasbourg-based assembly is questioning of the suitability of the country’s electoral arrangements via a resolution calling for an Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission to supervise this autumn’s national elections.

The resolution, supported by the European People’s Party, the Socialists, Renew Europe, the Greens and the Left, was passed by 472 votes to 136.

The text expressed concerns over Poland’s electoral code, the process for certifying the voting, and the formation of an extra-parliamentary Commission on Russian influence. It asserts that the rule of law in Poland is deteriorating as a result of decisions taken by the government.

The backers of the resolution allege that changes in the code were made ahead of the election and were intended to favour the ruling PiS party.

That was a reference to a PiS bid to boost turnout in rural areas where it enjoys high support. Free transport to polling stations in remote areas has been introduced.

The resolution’s advocates also questioned the certification process for the vote. The Polish Supreme Court responsible for certifying the elections “could not be regarded as either independent or neutral”.

The objection to the Commission on Russian influence stems from the opposition’s insistence that it was a body created to establish the guilt of the previous Liberal government over its failure to combat Russian influence in the policy process.

However, this body, after amendments, no longer has the power to debar individuals from office and its decisions can be appealed against in the common courts.

The call for a full OSCE mission has irritated Warsaw because the electoral process in Poland has never seriously been questioned before. The only time when there was any real controversy was during the tenure of the previous Polish Government when the opposition protested local election results because of the high number of spoiled ballots.

Neither the European Parliament or the European Commission intervened at the time.

Poland’s ruling Conservative MEPs were furious at the Parliament’s latest resolution.

One, Zdzisław Krasnodębski, took to Twitter to say that his country’s whole legal system and therefore sovereignty were being challenged.

His fellow MEP, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, wrote that “the attack continues”. He was referring to the years of wrangling between the EC and European Court of Justice (ECJ) with the present Polish Government over judicial reform in Poland.

As a result, Poland has endured daily fines sanctioned by the ECJ and has had its post-Covid pandemic funds blocked by the EC.

The election this autumn sees the PiS seeking a third term in office. Polls indicate that a parliamentary majority is unlikely this time around but the party could still remain in office as a minority administration.

The majority in the EC and European Parliament have made little secret of their desire for the present ruling PiS to lose the election as the EU establishment has repeatedly clashed with Poland over judicial reform, climate policy and relocation of migrants.