Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Poland to join the referendum gang

Sources: Financial Times, and others.

Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski says his country will “probably” call a referendum on the constitution, rather than risk defeat in a badly divided parliament. “Can the constitution be sold in Poland? I think yes," he told the Financial Times. "In my view we can turn to public opinion, which is strongly in favour of the European Union."

On the other hand, Kwasniewski was doubtful about whether parliament could marshal the necessary two-thirds support to endorse the constitution. But public acceptance would depend on the negotiating the compromise of a "emergency brake" mechanism, under which the proposed voting system could be set aside for issues of vital national importance. "The proposed safety elements, in my opinion, could be enough for Polish public opinion," said Kwasniewski.

However, the Polish president's faith in voters may be misplaced. With the collapse of the ruling left-wing Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), forcing prime minister Leszek Miller to resign as of May 2, the Eurosceptic Self-Defence party is leading in some opinion polls. It could take Poland in a entirely different direction to that planned by the political elite.

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