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Maciej Rataj twice served as Acting President of Poland

The Acting President of the Republic of Poland (Pełniący Obowiązki Prezydenta Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, shorter P.o. Prezydenta RP) is a temporary post provided for by the Polish Constitution.

The constitution states that the President is an elected office, because of which there is no presidential line of succession. If the President is unable to execute his/her powers and duties, a predetermined person will become Acting President.

There are two potential situations in which an Acting President can be appointed:

  1. Temporary incapacity of the President
  2. Vacancy due to death, resignation or impeachment of the President

In the first case, the Acting President is just a temporary deputy. In the case of a vacancy, however, he becomes the head of state until the next election, albeit without the title of President, and retaining his previous office. In either case, all the powers of the President devolve to the Acting President, with the exception of the right to dissolve the Parliament.

The first person in line to become Acting President is the Marshal of the Sejm. Should he be unable to serve, the next is the Marshal of the Senate. This order of precedence has been in effect since the creation of the Office of President, with the exception of the period 1935-1939, when the order was reversed.

To date only one person has served as Acting President, the Sejm Marshal Maciej Rataj, though he has done so twice. The first time was between the assassination of President Gabriel Narutowicz and the election of Stanisław Wojciechowski, December 16 - December 22, 1922. The second time was between the resignation of President Wojciechowski and the election of Ignacy Mościcki, May 15 - June 4, 1926. Both times he appointed a new cabinet.

During the period of communist rule, two Sejm Marshals served very briefly as Presidents pro tempore of the State National Council:

Constitutional provisions on Acting Presidency

Article 131, Chapter 5:

1. If the President of the Republic is temporarily unable to discharge the duties of his office, he shall communicate this fact to the Marshal of the Sejm, who shall temporarily assume the duties of the President of the Republic. If the President of the Republic is not in a position to inform the Marshal of the Sejm of his incapacity to discharge the duties of the office, then the Constitutional Tribunal shall, on request of the Marshal of the Sejm, determine whether or not there exists an impediment to the exercise of the office by the President of the Republic. If the Constitutional Tribunal so finds, it shall require the Marshal of the Sejm to temporarily perform the duties of the President of the Republic.
2. The Marshal of the Sejm shall, until the time of election of a new President of the Republic, temporarily discharge the duties of the President of the Republic in the following instances:
- the death of the President of the Republic
- the President's resignation from office;
- judicial declaration of the invalidity of the election to the Presidency or other reasons for not assuming office following the election
- a declaration by the National Assembly of the President's permanent incapacity to exercise his duties due to the state of his health; such declaration shall require a resolution adopted by a majority vote of at least two-thirds of the statutory number of members of the National Assembly
- dismissal of the President of the Republic from office by a judgment of the Tribunal of State.
3. If the Marshal of the Sejm is unable to discharge the duties of the President of the Republic, such duties shall be discharged by the Marshal of the Senate.
4. A person discharging the duties of the President of the Republic shall not shorten the term of office of the Sejm[1]

References

See also

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