Meddling EU attacks Poland over coronavirus postal vote for presidential election

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said the election will go-ahead on either May 10, 17 or 23 by a postal ballot because of the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s lockdown measures have prevented normal campaigning from taking place in the build-up to the vote. Mr Morawiecki’s government claims the unprecedented postal vote is necessary to protect the public from the COVID-19 outbreak.

But Donald Tusk, a former prime minister and EU Council president, has said the plan is “nothing like an election”.

Poland’s conservative Law and Justice government was yesterday accused by the European Commission of attempting to seize control of the country’s judiciary and threatening free and fair elections.

Justice commissioner Vera Jourova said there are mounting fears in Brussels that Warsaw is using the global pandemic to undermine democracy and judicial independence.

She said: “We cannot compromise or put in lockdown our fundamental rights and values.

“The virus must not kill democracy.”

The Commission is already going to the European Court of Justice demanding that its Luxembourg-based judges overturn a recent Polish law.

Under the law, enacted in, Polish judges are blocked from applying provisions of EU law that protect judicial independence.

Brussels claims the new legislation is an infringement of judicial independence and “can be qualified as a disciplinary offence”.

Ms Jourova said: “There are clear risks that the provisions regarding the disciplinary regime against judges can be used for political control of the content of the judicial decisions.

“This is a European issue, because Polish courts apply European law and judges from other countries that Polish judges act independently.

“This mutual trust is the foundation of our single market and our area of freedom.”

Polish and international judiciary associations have called on the Commission to take “immediate action” against Warsaw.

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In a letter to Ms Jourova, they wrote: “Poland’s ruling party is about to capture the whole Supreme Court while an unfair and not free presidential election is due to take place at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mr Tusk has urged “all honest, decent Poles” to boycott the upcoming presidential election.

He said: “Basic human decency does not allow us to participate in what is being proposed.

“If you don’t know how to act, be decent.”

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Lydia Gall, a senior research at Human Rights Watch, said: “Poland’s voting process should protect voters during the pandemic.

“It’s no solution to rush through a potentially flawed voting system or to postpone the election by two years.”

A final decision on the postal ballot taking place rests with the parliament, which is expected to make a decision on May 6, just days before the proposed election date.

The government-backed incumbent president, Andrzej Duda, is well-placed in the polls and has dominated the airwaves during the pandemic.

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