Ruling PiS party requests partial recount of votes in the Senate election
Poland's ruling nationalists asked the Supreme Court on Monday to approve a recount of some votes for parliament's upper house, a move which if approved could hand them a majority in both chambers and expedite their disputed reform agenda.
The Law and Justice (PiS) party, which regained its majority in the lower house but narrowly lost it in the Senate in the October 13 election, said it wanted recounts in Katowice and Koszalin due to a high level of invalid votes.
Later on Monday (October 21), PiS filed for a recount of votes in another four constituencies: Toruń, Konin and two constituencies in Kalisz, raising the total number of questioned results to 6.
Its loss of a simple majority in the Senate, and a smaller than expected majority in the lower house, mean it may be harder for the PiS to complete an overhaul of the judiciary, media and cultural institutions.
Poland's ruling eurosceptic nationalists have been embroiled in a long-running dispute with the European Union over its reforms of the judiciary and public media, which critics say have eroded the independence of both.
PiS deputy spokesman Radosław Fogiel told reporters the party had spotted "anomalies", namely "much higher numbers of invalid votes" in some districts that outweighed the differences in vote totals for the respective candidates.
He did not rule out the PiS requesting further recounts.
"It is hard for me to say what the intentions of PiS are, for sure the main intention is to take the Senate (upper house)," said Senator Gabriela Morawska-Stanecka from the opposition Left coalition whose seat was one of those targeted.
"Now we will see if this is why PiS forced through the reform of the Supreme Court," tweeted Robert Biedroń, leader of one of the parties in the Left bloc.
The Supreme Court has up to 90 days to rule on the validity of elections.
Opposition parties hold 48 of 100 seats in the upper house, but wield a majority thanks to three independent senators who are broadly supportive.
Polish media have reported that the PiS, which also holds 48 seats in the upper house, has made overtures to opposition senators in an attempt to establish a working majority.
The PiS campaigned on a promise to expand its massive welfare programme and deepen reforms of the judiciary, an overhaul that has sparked unprecedented legal action from the EU and drawn accusations that the party is subverting democracy.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters