Polish president seeks proposals for new constitution
Posted August 25
WARSAW, Poland — Poland's president on Friday invited his compatriots to make suggestions for a new constitution to replace one that took effect 20 years ago.
President Andrzej Duda is calling on citizens to send their ideas to his office and to share them with local authorities over the next year with the aim of holding a referendum in November 2018 on possible changes.
The proposals are to be discussed in regional meetings with social groups during the coming year and will be the basis for about 10 questions asked in the referendum.
Duda first floated the idea in May, apparently taking the governing party by surprise. It was seen as an effort to demonstrate his independence from ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland's most influential politician.
In a speech Friday in Gdansk, Duda said the existing constitution — which took effect seven years after democracy was restored in Poland — was "interim," had shortcomings and wasn't fit for a mature democracy.
"The new constitution should take us forward into the future," Duda said.
He expects people to suggest, among other topics, whether the charter should guarantee free education, health care and family bonuses and how far it should define the power of state agencies.
The current constitution took effect under a left-wing government, which taints it in the eyes of right-wing critics.
This story has been corrected to say the ideas for a new Polish constitution to be sent to the president's office, not the Senate.