THE POLISH SENATE
I - COMPOSITION
100 senators elected by universal direct suffrage.
II - ELECTORAL SYSTEM
40 plurinominal constituencies electing 2 to 4 seats.
Age at which allowed to stand for office: 30.
Senators can also hold office as ministers or deputy ministers.
Term of office: The same as for the Sejm (4 years unless dissolved before).
Last renewed: September 23st 2001
III - SESSIONS SYSTEM
A - ORDINARY SESSIONS
The calendar of ordinary sessions for the Senate is not fixed, it depends on the sessions of the Sejm.
In practice, there are two two to three day sessions per month.
B - EXTRAORDINARY SESSIONS
Possible, but very rare.
IV - RELATIONSHIP WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH
A - LEGISLATIVE POWER
1) Legislative initiative
Attributed to the Senate in conjunction with the members of Parliament (1 group or 1 committee), the President, the Council of Ministers, and a group of at least 100,000 citizens.
2) Right to amendment
The Senate has the right to amend.
3) Legislative procedure
a) Ordinary procedure
Draft bills that are not initiated by the Senate shall first be presented to the Sejm.
All bills must first be presented to the Sejm.
The author of the draft may withdraw the bill up until the end of the second stage of its examination.
The draft voted by the Sejm is transmitted to the Senate and sent to the relevant committee. The committee must present its report within a maximum of two weeks (the work of committees is extremely important). The draft is then examined during a plenary session.
The Senate has 30 days to adopt the bill without modifications, amend it, or reject it (in emergencies this period is reduced to 14 days).
If not declared by a resolution within 30 days, the law is considered as having been adopted.
The Senate's resolution dismissing or amending a law is considered as having been adopted if the Sejm does not dismiss the resolution by an absolute majority in presence of at least half its the constitutional number of members (230).
If the Sejm does not reject the Senate's amendments, they are considered as having been adopted. This is the same for motions of dismissal of the whole project.
The text voted by the Sejm accompanied with, if need be, the Senate's amendments adopted by the Sejm, is transmitted to the President of the Republic to be promulgated.
b) In budgetary affairs
The Senate can adopt a resolution approving or amending the finance bill voted by the Sejm within 20 days counting from the moment the bill is transmitted to the Senate. It cannot dismiss the bill.
B - CONTROLLING POWER
No power of control over the Executive branch.
C - THE SENATE'S POWERS IN TERMS OF THE PRESIDENCY
1. Observation, by the National Assembly (joint session of the Sejm and the Senate) of the permanent incapacitation, for health reasons, of the President of the Republic as regards the exercise of his functions, by a two-thirds majority of at least half of the total number of members of the National Assembly.
2. Interim, by the President of the Senate for the President of the Republic if the President of the Sejm is unable to exercise the function.
3. Impeachment. The President of the Republic may be impeached before the State Tribunal for violation of the Constitution or laws or of committing an offence by a resolution voted by the National Assembly with at least a two-thirds majority of the constitutional number of members, at the proposal of at least 140 members of the Assembly.
V - SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS
A - Agreement of the Senate required to hold a referendum (decision taken by the President of the Republic).
B - REFERRAL TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL TRIBUNAL
The President of the Senate or 30 senators can refer the issue of the constitutionality of a legislative act or the compliance with the Constitution and existing legislation of a prescriptive act to the Constitutional Tribunal.
C - The President of the Senate is automatically a member of the State Defence Committee.
D -Senate's agreement required for:
- Nomination and dismissal by the Sejm of the President of the Supreme Court of Audit ;
- Nomination by the Sejm of the protector of citizen's rights ;
- Nomination by the Sejm of the protector of children's rights ;
- Nomination by the Sejm of the President of the Institute for National Commemoration.
E - Nomination, by the Senate, with the Sejm and the President of the Republic, of the members of the following:
- National Council for Radio and Television ;
- National Council of Jurisdiction ;
- Council for Monetary Policy.