Polish episcopate: right to vote must be fair

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The Polish episcopate in a statement said that the right to vote must be fair and guarantee the possibility of a real choice.

Click here to read an analysis from Poland in English.

The spokesman of the Conference of the Polish episcopate, Father Paweł Rytel-Andrianik commented: “The electoral law is not only technical, but also ethical. It must be fair and guarantee a wide choice of representation of public opinion. In no case should it impede or restrict the right to elect or to be elected.”

Fr Rytel-Andrianik referred to the ongoing debate in Poland on the changes in the electoral law of the European Parliament and recalled the basic principles of Catholic social teaching.

The Episcopal spokesman emphasized that electoral law should serve the public, act for the common good, and not only the largest political parties.

What caused the debate?

The main change proposed by Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party in the election law is to set a minimum number of seats for each constituency so that each of the 13 regional constituencies elects at least three members of European parliaments (MEPs).

Political analysts believe the changes would benefit larger parties and would strengthen both the major parties − PiS and the main opposition, the Civic Platform (PO) party. Smaller parties would not be able to gain any seats in the European parliament.

In a recent interview, President Andrzej Duda said he was seriously leaning towards vetoing the legislation as he felt it could be unfair to smaller parties. The President has invited parties who object to the legislation to meetings with him on August 13.

source: episkopat.pl, Poland in English

Comment:

The Opposition has often criticized the church for putting pressure on politicians over votes on legislation affecting abortion, contraception and IVF rights. It has argued the church should not be interfering in the political process.

However, opposition politicians have not been so keen to criticize the church when it has questioned the ruling party’s judicial policies or when it has argued for Poland to host refugees from Syria and other countries. They will also welcome the church’s intervention on behalf of smaller parties.

Law and Justice will not be pleased. The episcopate’s views will make a presidential veto more, rather than less, likely. This could cost the party seats in the European Parliament come next year.

Why is the church getting involved? It's because it has always maintained it will speak out on ethical grounds. Moreover, it wants to show itself as being independent of and capable of being critical of the governing party. A party which is more in tune with its views on axiomatic issues.

The church, however, does not want to be perceived as a client of any single political party. Its faithful are not all supporters of the ruling party and the church wants to represent them too.


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