Venice Commission - Observatory on emergency situations

Disclaimer: this information was gathered by the Secretariat of the Venice Commission on the basis of contributions by the members of the Venice Commission, and complemented with information available from various open sources (academic articles, legal blogs, official information web-sites etc.).

Every effort was made to provide accurate and up-to-date information. For further details please visit our page on COVID-19 and emergency measures taken by the member States:


17. If parliamentary and/or, where applicable, presidential elections were scheduled to take place during the Covid-19 emergency: were they held? Were special arrangements made, and if so, which arrangements? Was it necessary to amend the electoral legislation? What was the turnout? How was it compared to the previous elections? If they were postponed, what was the constitutional or legal basis for doing so? Who took the decision? For how long were they postponed? Was this decision subject and submitted to parliamentary control or judicial review?

The presidential election in Poland was originally scheduled for 10 May (first round) but could not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Under Article 228 of the Polish Constitution, extraordinary measures such as a state of natural disaster may be introduced in situations of particular danger. The Act on a state of natural disaster provides that the state of natural disaster may be introduced if massive infections occur. During a period of introduction of extraordinary measures and 90 days thereafter, no elections may be held.

The authorities wanted to hold elections on 6 April as planned. However, it seemed impossible to hold the elections in the regular manner under current conditions, if only since there is not a sufficient number of volunteers to staff the polling stations and turnout would be very low. The Sejm (lower chamber) therefore adopted, with a narrow majority and after its rejection by the Senate (the upper chamber), on 6 April a law providing that the 2020 presidential elections shall be conducted exclusively by postal voting on 10 May. Nearly immediately afterwards the elections were postponed to 28 June (first round) and 12 July (second round), with both voting at the polling station and postal voting (until then postal voting had not been admitted in Poland).