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POLAND: Constitutional Referendum
The Chancellery of the President has finished its series of public, regional meetings regarding the proposed referendum on amending the constitution. According to Paweł Mucha, the President’s Plenipotentiary for the Constitutional Referendum, the majority of the public believes the current constitution requires amendments. Key issues which have been raised, include: conflicts between domestic law and EU legislation; healthcare; social security; education; protection of disabled persons.
The scope of the referendum is yet to be decided. Previously, Andrzej Duda signalled the possibility of strengthening the role of the President, but no developments on this proposal have emerged. Two major conferences are planned for April – more details will be announced then. Currently questions proposed for the referendum are under review and are to be handpicked by the President. However, setting a date for the referendum seems to be a more pressing matter. The President, and the Chancellery are still considering a suitable date, which would not negatively affect the attendance at the local elections or the referendum. Notably, hosting the referendum on the same day as the November 2018 local elections is being considered.
Above all, the referendum is Duda’s bid to build political capital for his reelection campaign. The President’s proposal failed to spark enthusiasm amongst PiS members, but no party figures spoke against it openly. In technical terms, even if the referendum signals the public’s will to change the constitution, it may prove hard to materialise it before the end of Duda’s and the parliament’s terms.