Referendum on Poland’s Accession to EU Invalid

Referendum on Poland’s Accession to EU Invalid

Piotr Bein 7.2.2010

The referendum in 2004 on Poland’s  accession to the European Union allowed Polish diaspora to vote. The official Polish bureau of statistics showed in 2000 that 16 million Polish citizens live permanently abroad. Of that number, an estimated 12 million are eligible to vote (age 18 restriction). Not everyone eligible could afford or had time to travel to Polish consulates and embassies. In Canada, for example, a dual Polish-Canadian citizen in Yukon Territories, would have to fly thousands of kilometres to Vancouver at own expense.

But this was not the main problem with the referendum. It required that Polish citizens abroad who intend to vote should phone respective consulates in advance to be “eligible”. This requirement was discriminatory. Nobody needed to pre-register in Poland to be considered eligible. Consequently, only 96,161 of the 10 million eligible Poles abroad were shown by the State Elections Commission as “eligible” to vote in the referendum. In the USA where 9,4 million Poles live, 17,450 were eligible, and in Brasil, 267 out of 1,2 million Poles were eligible!

There was also a requirement that at least 50% of those eligible vote in the referendum. To satisy this, eligible Poles abroad should number at least 6.9 million. This is easily satisfied with the total base of 16 million Poles abroad. 59% out of 29.9 million eligible Poles in Poland, i.e. 17.6 million came the vote. Abroad, the Commission calculated, the participation was 82.6% (96,161 “eligible”, i.e. those who phoned in advance, and 79,452 valid votes).

If calculated properly, the requirement of overall minimum 50% participation failed.


29.9 million (in Poland) + about 12 million (abroad) = about 42 million Polish citizens

Cast valid votes:

17.6 million in Poland + 0.8 million abroad = 18.4 million

Participation ratio: 18.4 : 42 = 43%

This is how Poles “chose” EU.
Reference: Jerzy Zarakowski, “Referendum w sprawie Unii sfalszowane?”, Wir, No. 1, 2004.

By piotrbein