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POLAND: Sejm during pandemic

Yesterday MPs met in the Sejm to amend the rules of procedure. The change will allow MPs to access today’s continuation of the session remotely. MPs are not obliged to use remote access, they can still appear in the Sejm but most members, especially from the ruling PiS party which advocated for the change, will remain at home. Today the Sejm will reconvene at noon in a partially online form, to vote on the bills which are part of the Anti-Crisis Shield. The Senate will meet at the beginning of next week, but its meeting will most likely take place with senators scattered across the parliament rather than through remote online access.

The session yesterday was extraordinary in its form. Only a handful of MPs were present in the plenary chamber, and the rest were placed across committee rooms in the Sejm. Some appeared in protective masks and gloves. It was the Civic Platform (PO) which took the harshest tone during debates. Still, it was apparent that conflicts between opposition parties will prevent or delay a united narrative against the ruling PiS party. For instance, the PO criticised the Left after PiS adopted the Left’s amendment. The agrarian PSL was highlighting the supposed statement of the PO’s presidential candidate Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska who said that the constitution is more important than human lives. Kidawa-Błońska denies this allegation. The session highlighted that the opposition could not find a productive narrative. The only argument which resonated was the criticism of PiS for not postponing the presidential election. Figures from within the ruling PiS party have mentioned off the record that the election will be delayed if the optimistic infection rate scenario is not apparent in mid-April.