Overview and context
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The Polish Parliament consists of two legislative bodies, the Lower House (the Sejm), and the upper house (the Senate). There are 460 elected deputies in the Sejm, and 100 senators in the Senate, in both cases elected for four-year terms. The Polish legislative procedure is described by the Constitution.
Legislation can be initiated by the Cabinet, by the deputies of the Lower House (by a committee or a group of at least 15 deputies); by the Senate (a resolution of the entire Chamber is necessary); by the President of the Republic; or the Council of Ministers. The Constitution also allows citizens to introduce a bill if they gather 100,000 signatures from eligible voters.
Bills are submitted to the Lower House, where they are dealt with in three readings. The Lower House examines the bill and transmits it to the appropriate parliamentary committees for amendment. The bill is then returned to the Lower House, which votes on the amendments and the bill as a whole. The Lower House approves the bill by a simple majority, subject to at least half of the statutory number of members being present. Once it is passed in the Lower House, the bill is transmitted to the Senate, which has one month in which to adopt it without amendment, amend it or discard it. If a bill is amended or thrown out by the Senate, it must be re?examined by the Lower House. The Lower House needs an absolute majority, subject to at least half of the statutory number of Members being present, to override a Senate recommendation.
If the Parliament completes the legislative process, the bill is transmitted to the President, who should sign it and order its publication in the Journal of Laws. Before signing a bill, the President can refer it to the Constitutional Court for constitutional review. If the Constitutional Court deems the bill to be compatible with the Constitution, the President may not refuse to sign it. The President also has the option of not referring a bill to the Constitutional Court but simply refusing to sign the bill and returning it to the Lower House for further consideration (“presidential veto”). However, the Lower House may reject a presidential veto by a three fifths majority, subject to at least half of the statutory number of Members being present. If the bill is once again adopted by the Sejm, the President has one week in which to sign it and order its publication. The last Presidential elections took place in May 2015, the next will take place in 2020. The last Parliamentary election took place in October 2015, next is expected for 2019.