Poland: Country and Foreign Investment
Government and Legal Structure
This page was last updated on 30 November 2020.
Poland is a semi-presidential republic. The head of state is the president, who is directly elected by popular vote for one five-year term, with one further term available. The president heads the executive branch, has certain rights to dissolve parliament and veto legislation and represents Poland in the international arena. The current president is Andrzej Duda, who has been in office since August 2015.
The bicameral, two-tiered legislature is known as the National Assembly (Zgromadzenie Narodowe). It consists of an upper house, the Senat, and a lower house, the Sejm (Polish for ‘diet’.)
The Senat consists of 100 members who are elected by a majority vote on a provincial basis and serve four-year terms. The Senat has the right to amend or reject laws passed by the Sejm, though the latter may override this by means of a majority vote.
The Sejm consists of 460 members, known as deputies, who are elected using the d’Hondt form of party list proportional representation to serve four-year terms.
The head of government is the president of the Council of Ministers (Polish: prezes rady ministrów), usually known as the prime minister in English. He or she is appointed by the president and is by custom the leader of the largest party in the Sejm elections. The current prime minister is Mateusz Morawiecki. The Council of Ministers, also known as the Cabinet, is proposed by the prime minister, approved by the Sejm and appointed by the president.
In the last Sejm elections, the hard-right Law and Justice party (Polish: Prawo i Sprawiedliwość or PiS) won an absolute majority of 235 seats andf therefore formed the government. The party has caused some controversy due to its stance issues such as abortion and LGBT rights.
The legal system is based on a mixture of Napoleonic civil law and some of the legacy communist legal system, although changes have been made to this as part of the ongoing democratisation project.
Key legal institutions in Poland include the Supreme Court (Sad Najwyzszy), the Supreme Administrative Court (Naczelny Sad Administracyjny), the Constitutional Tribunal (Trybunal Konstytucyjny); and the State Tribunal (Trybunal Stanu).
Limited judicial review of legislative acts is permitted, however, rulings of the Constitutional Tribunal are final. Court decisions, meanwhile, can be appealed to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The appointment of Supreme Court judges (for an indefinite period) is undertaken by the president, taking into account the recommendation of the National Council of the Judiciary. Constitutional tribunal judges, meanwhile, are chosen by the Sejm, and are appointed for terms of nine-years.