|President of the|
Republic of Poland
Prezydent Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej
|Member of||European Council|
|Term length||Five years|
|Constituting instrument||Constitution of Poland|
|Formation||11 December 1922|
|First holder||Gabriel Narutowicz|
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
The President of the Republic of Poland (Polish: Prezydent Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, shorter form: Prezydent RP) is the head of state of Poland. Their rights and obligations are determined in the Constitution of Poland. The president heads the executive branch. In addition the president has a right to dissolve parliament in certain cases, veto legislation and represents Poland in the international arena.
The first president of Poland, Gabriel Narutowicz, was sworn in as president of the Second Polish Republic on 11 December 1922. He was elected by the National Assembly (the Sejm and the Senate) under the terms of the 1921 March Constitution. Narutowicz was assassinated on 16 December 1922. Previously Józef Piłsudski had been "Chief of State" (Naczelnik Państwa) under the provisional Small Constitution of 1919. In 1926 Piłsudski staged the "May Coup", overthrew President Stanisław Wojciechowski and had the National Assembly elect a new one, Ignacy Mościcki, thus establishing the "Sanation regime". Before Piłsudski's death, parliament passed a more authoritarian 1935 April Constitution of Poland (not in accord with the amendment procedures of the 1921 March Constitution). Mościcki continued as president until he resigned in 1939 in the aftermath of the German Invasion of Poland. Mościcki and his government went into exile into Romania, where Mościcki was interned. In Angers, France Władysław Raczkiewicz, at the time the speaker of the Senate, assumed the presidency after Mościcki's resignation on 29 September 1939. Following the fall of France, the president and the Polish government-in-exile were evacuated to London, United Kingdom. The transfer from Mościcki to Raczkiewicz was in accordance with Article 24 of the 1935 April Constitution. Raczkiewicz was followed by a succession of presidents in exile, of whom the last one was Ryszard Kaczorowski.
In 1944–45 Poland became a part of Soviet-controlled central-eastern Europe. Bolesław Bierut assumed the reins of government and in July 1945 was internationally recognized as the head of state. The Senate was abolished in 1946 by the Polish people's referendum. When the Sejm passed the Small Constitution of 1947, based in part on the 1921 March Constitution, Bierut was elected president by that body. He served until the Constitution of the Polish People's Republic of 1952 eliminated the office of the president.
Following the 1989 amendments to the constitution which restored the presidency, Wojciech Jaruzelski, the existing head of state, took office. In Poland's first direct presidential election, Lech Wałęsa won and was sworn in on 22 December 1990. The office of the president was preserved in the Constitution of Poland passed in 1997; the constitution now provides the requirements for, the duties of and the authority of the office.
The President of Poland is elected directly by the people to serve for five years and can be reelected only once. Pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, the President is elected by an absolute majority. If no candidate succeeds in passing this threshold, a second round of voting is held with the participation of the two candidates with the largest and second largest number of votes respectively.
In order to be registered as a candidate in the presidential election, one must be a Polish citizen, be at least 35 years old on the day of the first round of the election and collect at least 100,000 signatures of registered voters.
The President has a free choice in selecting the Prime Minister, yet in practice he usually gives the task of forming a new government to a politician supported by the political party with the majority of seats in the Sejm (usually, though not always, it is the leader of that political party).
The President has the right to initiate the legislative process. He also has the opportunity to directly influence it by using his veto to stop a bill; however, his veto can be overruled by a three-fifths majority vote in the presence of at least half of the statutory number of members of the Sejm (230). Before signing a bill into law, the President can also ask the Constitutional Tribunal to verify its compliance with the Constitution, which in practice bears a decisive influence on the legislative process.
In his role as supreme representative of the Polish state, the President has power to ratify and revoke international agreements, nominates and recalls ambassadors, and formally accepts the accreditations of representatives of other states. The President also makes decisions on award of highest academic titles, as well as state distinctions and orders. In addition, he has the right of clemency, viz. he can dismiss final court verdicts (in practice, the President consults such decisions with the Minister of Justice).
The President is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces; he appoints the Chief of the General Staff and the commanders of all of the service branches; in wartime he nominates the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and can order a general mobilization. The President performs his duties with the help of the following offices: the Chancellery of the President, the Office of National Security, and the Body of Advisors to the President.
Several properties are owned by the Office of the President and are used by the Head of State as his or her official residence, private residence, residence for visiting foreign officials etc.
The constitution states that the President is an elected office, there is no directly elected presidential line of succession. If the President is unable to execute his/her powers and duties, the Marshal of the Sejm will have the powers of a President for a maximum of 60 days until elections are called.
On 10 April 2010, a plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and 94 others including many Polish officials crashed near Smolensk-North Airport in Russia. There were no survivors. Bronisław Komorowski took over acting presidential powers following the incident. On 8 July Bronislaw Komorowski resigned from the office of Marshal of the Sejm after winning the presidential election. According to the constitution, the acting president then became the Marshal of the Senate, Bogdan Borusewicz. In the afternoon Grzegorz Schetyna was elected as a new Marshal of the Sejm and he became acting president. Schetyna served as the interim head of state until Komorowski's swearing-in on 6 August.
Former Acting President of Poland:
Within Poland, former presidents are entitled to lifetime personal security protection by Biuro Ochrony Rządu officers, in addition to receiving a substantial pension and a private office. On 10 April 2010, Lech Kaczyński, president at the time, and Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last president-in-exile although not internationally recognized, died in the crash of the Polish Air Force Tu-154 en route to Russia.
Former Presidents of Poland:
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