Faithless Electors

As the U.S. Supreme Court term draws to a close, one set of eagerly watched cases could have potential implications for the upcoming presidential election in the United States. The Court is poised to decide two cases that involve so-called “faithless” electors. Electors are the people whose votes select the President of the United States, and the electors in these cases refused to cast their votes for the presidential candidate who won the popular vote in their home states.

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Between Constitutional Tragedy and Political Farce

One of the two basic genres of ancient drama is tragedy – fate thwarts all the intentions and actions of the main protagonist, leading him to his doom. In such terms does the governing coalition in Poland attempt to present what befell the presidential elections in Poland – just a few days before the elections, the leaders of the two coalition parties issued the decision that the elections would not take place on the planned and constitutional dates. Was it indeed the lack of cooperation from the opposition, despite the strenuous attempts and herculean efforts of the government, that made it necessary to postpone the elections?

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Corona Constitutional #22: Hat Kaczyński sich verrechnet?

An diesem Sonntag wird in Polen ein neuer Präsident gewählt. Offiziell. Die Sache ist nur, dass an diesem Sonntag in Polen kein neuer Präsident gewählt wird. Die Regierung hat keine Wahl organisiert bekommen, will stattdessen vom Obersten Gerichtshof diese Wahl-Nichtwahl für ungültig erklären lassen, dahinter steckt ein elaboriertes politisches Kalkül, das aber im ganz großen Stil schief gehen könnte. Extrem spannende und riskante Zeiten also in Polen, und darüber spricht Max Steinbeis in der heutigen Folge unseres Krisenpodcasts mit einem Mann, der seit vielen Jahren als eine der letzten von der Regierungspartei PiS unabhängigen Institutionen des Staates gegen den Zerfall der Rechtsstaatlichkeit ankämpft, nämlich mit dem Bürgerrechtsbeauftragten ADAM BODNAR, der obendrein auch noch eine Botschaft an das deutsche Bundesverfassungsgericht mitgebracht hat.

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Plague President

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, city councils appointed plague doctors to assist those suffering from the Black Death. Now, in the 21st century, we are about to appoint a plague president in Poland. The governing Law and Justice (PiS) party is refusing to postpone the presidential election, scheduled for May 10, even though the COVID-19 pandemic is rampant. This is both detrimental to public health and unconstitutional.

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The Constitution as a Bargaining Chip

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Poland’s government is refusing to announce an emergency state, presumably in order to go ahead with the Presidential election on 10 May. Instead, the ruling coalition in Poland has been presenting increasingly controversial proposals aimed at ensuring that the country’s PiS-aligned President will remain in office. The most recent one envisages a constitutional amendment which would extend the president’s term of office. This proposal is nothing but an attempt to blackmail the opposition: either vote for a constitutional change or be blamed for the consequences of holding a presidential election during the pandemic.

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Preparing for the Pandemic Elections

There is no doubt that the essential state institutions should function as effectively as possible in the times of pandemic. It also means finding concrete and fast solutions provided in special statutes, aiming at alleviating social and economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. However, even when proceeding the bill known as Anti-crisis Shield (“Tarcza antykryzysowa”) that provides a financial aid for healthcare system, companies and different kinds of workers in Poland, the governing PiS party managed to introduce unconstitutional amendments to the bill.

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An Election in the Time of Pandemic

In Poland, the Law and Justice (PiS) government has opted not to use its constitutional power to declare a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 spreading. As Wojciech Sadurski explained, its motive is simple: not to postpone the Presidential election in Poland and thus increase the chances of the President-in-Office to win the second term. The question is whether the pandemic may cause invalidity of the election. If the answer is yes, as I suggest, the problem is who should be the judge of it. The chamber of the Polish Supreme Court that is empowered by law to do so does not give an ‘appearance of independence’, following the PiS’s so-called ‘reform’ of the judiciary.

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The Polish Presidential Campaign in the Shadow of the Pandemic

Various types of states of emergency have been, and in all likelihood will be, introduced or at least contemplated in different states of the world to cope with the COVID 19 crisis. Nowhere is this issue more lively than in Poland which is currently in the midst of the presidential election campaign – or rather “a sort of” election campaign of a somewhat bizarre character. It is a one-man campaign, leading up to the election which, by all standards, should not take place in a scheduled time. Except that the incumbent and his party seem not to notice it.

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Ze-Situation: A Constitutional Law Perspective on Ukraine’s Elections and What is Coming Next

On 21 April, 41-year-old actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who entered the political scene only in January 2019, won the second ballot of Ukraine’s presidential election with 73 percent of the national vote. Ukrainians are placing high hopes on their new President to improve the country’s politicial and economic situation. But political games and Ukraine’s constitution will make it difficult for Zelenskiy to bring about the change he was elected for.

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