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Back to Parliamentary Oversight of the Executive Branch

I. Introduction

Relations between the Sejm (Polish Parliament) and the government—Poland’s Council of Ministers—are defined by the Constitution. Article 95.2 states that “[t]he Sejm shall control activities of the Council of Ministers within the scope specified by the provisions of the Constitution and statutes.”[1] The Sejm performs general oversight by individual committees, which conduct investigations at the request of Sejm members.[2]  The Sejm evaluates the activity  of the executive through a vote of no confidence against the Council of Ministers.[3]

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II. Committees

Each of the twenty-five Sejm committees has the authority to investigate the administration on issues within the legislative jurisdiction of the committee.[4]  Committee powers are defined by the Law on the Exercise of the Mandate of a Deputy or Senator[5] and the Standing Orders of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland,[6] and extend to examining reports and information provided to committees by ministers and heads of other highest state offices and institutions.[7]  Parliamentary committees may within the scope of their jurisdiction review the activities of government agencies.[8]  Ministers’ participation in committee meetings is mandatory when “matters relating to their activity are considered.”[9]

A committee has the power to issue desiderata, or opinions, containing a committee’s suggestions regarding particular matters, and may be addressed to the Council of Ministers or its individual members, the President of the Supreme Audit Office, the President of the National Bank of Poland, the Prosecutor General, and the Chief Labor Inspector.[10] The addressee is required to respond in writing no later than thirty days from the day of receiving a desideratum.[11] In the event of failure to respond in due time or if a committee finds the response unsatisfactory, the desideratum can be renewed or, per the committee’s request, the Marshal of the Sejm may reject the answer as unsatisfactory and recommend the adoption of a relevant parliamentary resolution.[12]

In addition, Sejm committees may request information and explanations from local self-governmental bodies, social organizations, state-owned and self-government-owned enterprises and establishments, and commercial companies with state or communal participation.[13]

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III. Interpellations

Individual members of the Sejm may exercise control through submission of interpellations to the ministers. This right is provided by the Constitution[14] and is detailed in the Standing Orders of the Sejm.[15] Members’ interpellations must refer to problems related to state policy and be submitted in written form.[16]  They must be answered in writing within three weeks.[17]

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IV. Vote of No Confidence

The Sejm may dissolve the Council of Ministers by passing a vote of no confidence.[18] The motion to pass a vote of no confidence must be submitted by at least forty-six members.[19] If the Sejm passes a vote of no confidence, the President accepts the resignation of the Council of Ministers and appoints the Prime Minister chosen by the Sejm.[20] If the Sejm fails to pass a vote of no confidence, a second motion of no confidence cannot be submitted earlier than three months following the first vote unless it is supported by at least 115 legislators.[21]

The vote of no confidence may also be passed with respect to a minister or another member of the Council of Ministers.[22] The President must dismiss a minister who has received a vote of no confidence passed by the majority of statutory members of the Sejm.[23]

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V. Additional Sources for Research

The materials listed in the footnotes are the most useful for research.

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Prepared by Peter Roudik
Director of Legal Reasearch[*]
August 2017


[*] This report was prepared with the assistance of Law Library Foreign Law consultant Olena Yatsunska.

[1] CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND, Apr. 2, 1997, art. 95.2, available on the official website of the Sejm, at http://www.sejm.gov.pl/prawo/konst/angielski/kon1.htm.

[2]  Id. art. 95.

[3]  Id. art. 154.

[4] David M. Olson, Administrative Review and Oversight: The Experience of Post-Communist Legislatures, in TRENDS IN PARLIAMENTARY OVERSIGHT 17 (Riccardo Pelizzo, Rick Stapenhurst & David Olson eds., The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank 2004), available at http://siteresources. worldbank.org/WBI/Resources/TrendsinParliamentaryOversight-FINAL.pdf.

[5] Ustawa z dnia 9 maja1996 r. o o wykonywaniu mandatu posła i senatora [Law of May 9, 1996, on the Exercise of the Mandate of a Deputy or Senator], http://www.sejm.gov.pl/prawo/mandat/kon6.htm.

[6] STANDING ORDERS OF THE SEJM OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND (consolidated text of the Resolution of July 30, 1992, with the latest amendments of Apr. 21, 2017), available on the OIDE website, at http://oide.sejm.gov.pl/oide/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14798:the-standing-orders-of-the-sejm-of-the-republic-of-poland&catid=7&Itemid=361.

[7]  Id. art. 151.4.

[8]  Id. art. 151.5.

[9]  Id. art. 153.1.

[10] Id. art. 159.1.

[11]  Id. art. 159.4.

[12]  Id. art. 159.6.

[13] Ustawa z dnia 9 maja1996 r art. 24.

[14] CONSTITUTION art. 115.

[15] STANDING ORDERS OF THE SEJM OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND art. 191.1.

[16]  Id. art. 192.

[17] CONSTITUTION art. 115.1.

[18]  Id. art. 158.

[19]  Id. art. 158.1.

[20]  Id. art. 158.1.

[21]  Id. art. 158.2.

[22]  Id. art. 159.

[23]  Id. art. 159.2.