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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » January 7, 2009
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Parliament Votes to Override President's Veto
January 7, 2009   
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The lower house of Poland's parliament Dec. 19 overrode President Lech Kaczyński's veto of a draft law designed to restrict citizens' rights to early retirement. President Kaczyński has vetoed several bills in recent months, but his decision to veto the early retirement bill stirred up the most emotion.

The veto was rejected with 285 deputies voting to override it, 160 supporting the president, and no one abstaining. Under the constitution, the majority required to override the veto was three-fifths, with the presence of at least 50 percent, or 276, deputies. That majority was achieved because all the deputies from the governing coalition of the Civic Platform (PO) and the Polish People's Party (PSL), aided by the leftist opposition, voted to override the veto.

The leftists were divided on the issue until the last day before the vote, with two leading left-wing figures voicing diverging opinions. Grzegorz Napieralski, leader of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), supported the president's point of view, while Wojciech Olejniczak, head of the SLD parliamentary group, insisted that his party should support the government in the vote. Eventually, SLD deputies voted against the president's veto, but said they would appeal against the bill to the Constitutional Court.

Kaczyński criticized SLD deputies for helping the government override the presidential veto. He said this meant these parliamentarians turned their backs on their leftist ideals and "acted against the interests of employees."

The deputies also voted on seven other draft laws that the president had vetoed. They overrode Kaczyński's veto of a bill designed to amend the law on the protection of farmland and forests, and the same happened to the president's veto of a bill dealing with the court system.

At the same time, the house failed to overturn the president's veto of a draft law under which healthcare centers were to be converted into companies. They also upheld Kaczyński's vetoes of a draft law on healthcare center employees; a draft law intended to reform the healthcare system; an amendment to the law on combating unfair competition; and an amendment to the law on old-age and disability pensions.
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