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Poland may hold postponed presidential election on July 12

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s ruling party said Thursday that July 12 is under consideration as a new date for the country's presidential election, which will not take place Sunday as previously scheduled.

The conservative ruling coalition in Poland overcame internal divisions late Wednesday and postponed the election after the coronavirus pandemic threw off campaigning and voting preparations. No new date was set.

The disagreement within the governing coalition over when and how balloting should take place raised the threat of a small partner party withdrawing its support and the government losing its parliament majority and potentially collapsing.

President Andrzej Duda, who is seeking reelection, expressed “very big satisfaction” that the coalition reached an agreement. Under the current plan, the Supreme Court is expected to pronounce Sunday's vote void, based on a report from the State Electoral Commission which would note that the election had not taken place. That would pave way for a new election. Duda handpicked the court's acting president, Kamil Zaradkiewicz.

July 12 is seen as a potential new date for the election, but the decision rests with the parliament speaker, according to Radoslaw Fogiel, a lawmaker and spokesman for the governing Law and Justice party.

Duda’s current 5-year term expires on Aug. 6. Voting would be done by mail but the regulations will be amended to make them more precise, Fogiel said. The new legislation regulating the postal vote got final approval from parliament Thursday and was expected to be soon signed into law by Duda. Based on the experience from preparations for Sunday's election, it is to be urgently amended to guarantee the key role of the State Electoral Commission, allow access to voting for all Poles abroad, and confirm the participation in the new election of the current candidates.

Law and Justice is backing Duda’s re-election bid and he is leading opinion polls, well ahead of nine other candidates. Some Polish lawmakers demanded explanations from the government Thursday as to why preparations for the originally scheduled election failed and how much they cost, while legal experts raised doubts over whether the decisions complied with Poland's laws. Some noted that the Sunday vote has not yet been formally canceled.

European Union justice commissioner Didier Reynders said on Twitter that the EU “will continue to follow closely the organization of these elections,” as will pro-democracy organizations.

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