SEJM AND SENATE IN THE SYSTEM OF POWER
OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND
The Republic of Poland is, according to the Constitution of 1997, a democratic state ruled by law and implementing the principles of social justice. The Constitution is the supreme law in Poland, guaranteeing the rights of citizens and ensuring that all public authorities act on the basis and within the limits of the law. “Respect to the inherent dignity of the person, his/her right to freedom and the obligation of solidarity with others”, as the preamble stresses, constitute the “unshakeable foundation” of the Republic.
The system of government is based on the principle of the separation of and balance between the legislative, executive and judicial powers. The balance of powers consists in the fact that the Constitution does not grant any of the three powers with the supremacy over the others and creates numerous mechanisms of mutual influence. The Constitution recognises the inherent, inalienable and inviolable dignity of persons and citizens as a source of rights and freedoms, establishing a broad catalogue thereof. The fulfilment of those values and principles makes indispensable a democratically elected parliament which creates statutes and controls the executive power.
The Sejm Marshal’s staff
The Constitution vests legislative power in the Sejm and the Senate, executive power in the President and the Council of Ministers, and judicial power – in courts and tribunals. The system is described as a parliamentary-cabinet system. Only the Sejm and the Senate can pass statutes to which the Constitution grants a special role in the system of sources of law as regards the determination of the legal position of citizens. At the same time the conformity of the statutes to the basic law is submitted to the control of the Constitutional Tribunal.
The Sejm is composed of 460 Deputies chosen for a 4-year term of office. Elections to the Sejm are universal, equal, direct and proportional and are conducted by secret ballot. The Sejm, debating in the course of sittings open to the public, adopts statutes, authorizes the President of the Republic, by way of a statute, to ratify and terminate certain international agreements and may order a nationwide referendum. In the bicameral structure of the Polish Parliament, the Sejm is provided with a dominant role in the legislative process (for example, only the Sejm may repass a statute which has been referred by the President for reconsideration).
The Sejm performs an important role in the process of establishing the government (vote of confidence by an absolute majority in the presence of at least half of the statutory number of Deputies) and controlling it. It is also responsible for appointment of certain constitutional bodies and their members (inter alia, members of the Constitutional Tribunal, the Tribunal of State; with the consent of the Senate: President of the Supreme Chamber of Control and Commissioner for Citizens’ Rights (Ombudsman); on the motion of the President of the Republic – the President of the National Bank of Poland).
The Senat Marshal’s staff
The Senate consists of 100 Senators elected for 4 years by direct universal suffrage, by secret ballot, in single-member constituencies. The Senate, debating in the course of sittings open to the public, examines bills passed by the Sejm – it may accept, amend or reject them. However, the Senate’s amendments may be rejected by the Sejm (by an absolute majority vote in the presence of at least half of the statutory number of Deputies). The Senate has also the right to initiate legislation. It authorises referendums called by the President on matters of particular importance to the State. It approves appointment of certain constitutional bodies and chooses some of their members.
In cases provided for in the Constitution, the Sejm and the Senate sitting in joint sessions, presided by the Marshal of the Sejm, form the National Assembly equipped with its own competence, including, for example, the reception of the newly elected President’s oath or the hearing of the President’s message.
Last update: 14 February 2017