Politicians from Poland’s ruling alliance and the opposition began talks on Monday on delaying the presidential election due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The talks come as the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) prepares to hold the elections by post on May 10, because president Andrzej Duda, its ally, is projected to win.
The move angered the opposition, human rights officials, international organizations and EU commissioner Vera Jourova, who said the election risks not being free or fair.
PiS ally, Jaroslaw Gowin’s Accord, wants to delay the election by two years, on condition that Duda would then stand down. The option would require constitutional change, and therefore the support of the main opposition party, Civic Platform (PO), which believes an election could not be held safely in Poland before next year.
“It is good that we are holding talks, but we are far from reaching a consensus”, Gowin said after the first round of talks. PiS was not represented at the talks between PO and Accord.
Changing the constitution to prolong Duda’s mandate requires a two-thirds parliamentary majority, which PiS lacks and which gives the opposition leverage.
Poland recorded its biggest spike of coronavirus infections on Sunday, a day before it eased some of the restrictions. The health ministry said the spike was associated with the discovery of three new coronavirus outbreaks across the country – two in care homes and the other in a hospital.