The President of the Republic of Poland as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland
The powers of the President of the Republic of Poland in the scope of State security and national defence result from the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 2 April 1997.
The provision of Art. 126 clause 2 of the Constitution provides that “the President shall ensure the proper observance of the Constitution, safeguard the sovereignty and security of the State, as well as the inviolability and integrity of its territory”.
Furthermore, pursuant to the provisions of Art. 133 of the Constitution, “the President shall be the State representative in foreign affairs”.
The general constitutional norm related to the issue of safeguarding the State sovereignty and security as well as the inviolability and integrity of its territory was expanded on in the Act of 21 November 1967 on universal obligation to defend the Republic of Poland (Journal of Laws of 2004 No. 241, Item 2416 as amended).
Pursuant to Art. 4a, Clause 1 of the Act, the President shall:
- approve, on the application of the Prime Minister, the national security strategy;
- issue, on the application of the Prime Minister, by decision, the Political and Strategic Defence Directive of the Republic of Poland and other executive documents for the national security strategy;
- approve, on the application of the Council of Ministers, plans for the national trainings related to defence system and be in charge of their course;
- make decision, on the application of the Prime Minister, concerning the introduction or change of a particular defence readiness of the State;
- may address all public, governmental and self-governmental administration entities, entrepreneurs, heads of other organisational units and social organisations to obtain information important to state’s security and defences;
- initiate and provide patronage for the ventures directed at developing patriotic and defence attitudes in the society.
The documents approved and issued by the President constitute the basis for the implementation of the undertakings and planning of the intentions in the field of State security policy, as well as with respect to taking decisions aiming at the improvement the State defence system.
The general competences within the scope of safeguarding the State sovereignty and security and the inviolability and integrity of its territory oblige the President to analyse and assess any threats and activate the actions permissible by law with a view to counteracting the said threats.
Depending on the nature and degree of external threat to the State, the President may order, at the request of the Prime Minister, common or partial mobilisation and use of the armed forces to defend the Republic of Poland (Art. 136).
Another important prerogative of the head of State is described in Art. 234 of the Constitution which reads as follows: “If during the Martial Law period , the Sejm cannot convene its meeting, the President of the Republic of Poland shall, on the application of the Council of Ministers, issue statutory instruments within the scope and limits prescribed by Art. 228 clauses 3-5. The said decrees shall be approved by the Sejm during the forthcoming meeting".
The constitutional norm provides special powers to the President, at his sole disposal in a specific situation in the country and within the specific time, by the rights which can be exercised both by the legislative and the executive authorities. It should be emphasised that the President is the only person who is granted such competences, which proves his key role in the State security system.
Furthermore, on the basis of the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, the President, with respect to the State security, shall:
- award, at the request of the Minister of National Defence, the military ranks defined in the appropriate acts (Art. 134 clause 5);
- in the event of any threat to the State from the outside, armed attack on the territory of Poland or where the international agreements prescribe common defence against aggression, at the request of the Council of Ministers, may introduce the martial law on the part or whole territory of the State (Art. 229);
- in the event of any threat to the State constitutional system, the security of its citizens or public law and order, at the request of the Council of Ministers, may introduce, for a limited period of time no longer than 90 days, the state of emergency on any part or on the whole of the State territory (Art.230 clause 1).