Functions of the Sejm
The competence and functions of the Sejm are determined by the principle of separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic. In Article 95 (1), the Sejm and the Senate are mentioned as bodies exercising legislative power, i.e. lawmaking bodies. According to Article 95 (2), the Sejm also exercises control over the activities of the Council of Ministers, which is an executive body.
Arising from those and other constitutional provisions are the following functions of the Sejm and corresponding areas of competence:
The legislative function:
The basic function of the Sejm, which consists in the making, through a legislative procedure, of statutes – acts of Parliament laying down the rules for the functioning of basic areas of citizens’ life. The statutory area, i.e. an area governed by an act, may include e.g. civil rights and freedoms, organization and operation of the key authorities of the state, a system of state budget expenditure and revenue (the budget act), or criminal law. In addition, the Sejm authorizes the President of the Republic, by way of an act, to ratify and terminate certain international agreements. As part of this function, the system-forming function can also be distinguished, i.e. the making of constitutional norms, which are fundamental to the legal system concerned;
Another basic function of the Sejm, consisting in the Sejm’s ability to establish independently the actual state of affairs in matters concerning the Council of Ministers and the administration subordinated to the Sejm, as well as basic areas of social life, and to compare it with what is required by law. As part of its powers, the Sejm may demand information on a given issue from a government member in written or oral form at a sitting of the Sejm or a committee. A club or group of 15 deputies have the right to request the presentation of up-to-date information by a member of the Council of Ministers at a sitting of the Sejm. As an outcome of the scrutiny, the Sejm provides the assessment of proceedings, opinions, desiderata and suggestions which are not legally binding. However, as a consequence of such assessment, measures can be taken such as dismissal of an individual from a state post, e.g. a minister in consequence of a vote of non-confidence. As part of its scrutiny function, each year the Sejm debates on the performance of the budget act by the government, relying on an opinion by the Supreme Chamber of Control, and as a result of its assessment the government is or is not granted discharge for its activities. The Sejm also considers reports of the National Council of Radio Broadcasting and Television, the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection, and hears annual information from the Commissioner for Citizens’ Rights on the state of compliance with human and civil rights and freedoms;
Consisting in direct appointment and dismissal of constitutional bodies of the state and their members, as well as holding them accountable for their activities.
The Sejm participates in government formation, by granting the vote of confidence to a Council of Ministers appointed by the President or by appointing directly the Prime Minister and the cabinet members proposed by the PM. Moreover, the Sejm, with the Senate’s consent, appoints the President of the Supreme Chamber of Control, Commissioner for Citizens’ Rights and the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection, and, on proposal from the President of the Republic, appoints the President of the National Bank of Poland. The Sejm also appoints members of the Constitutional Tribunal and the Tribunal of State, some members of the National Broadcasting Council, the National Judiciary Council and the Council for Monetary Policy.