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Polish Sejm Moves to Curtail Parliamentary Representation of National Minorities

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

What may change the political complexion of the legislative bodies in the Republic of Poland, greatly affecting the political representation and constitutional rights of the national minorities in the Republic, was decided upon by a Sejm committee yesterday.

The Administrative Committee of the Polish Sejm voted yesterday on the long discussed proposal to amend the Polish election ordinance and to reduce the membership of the Sejm and Senate.

The proposal was fostered by the Polish Right parties, aiming at creating such conditions which would enable the existence of a purely Polish majority in the Parliament and Senate by reducing the influence of the national minorities. According to the resolution of the Committee, the membership of the Sejm, which until now consisted of 444 deputies, is to be reduced by 111, while the membership in the upper chamber is to be reduced by 103 from its present membership of 412.

These changes, however, were enacted in such a manner as to curtail the number of deputies and senators elected from certain territories comprising the Republic. According to the resolution of the committee, these reductions are to be applied only in Eastern Galicia and in the eastern provinces which are populated mainly by the minorities, while the parliamentary representation of the central and western parts of the Republic, where the population is in the majority Polish, will not be affected by the changes and reductions.

As soon as the resuit of the vote in the Administrative Committee became known, the Club of Jewish Deputies voiced a vigorous protest against this planned curtailment of the rights of the national minorities.

In a protest submitted to the speaker of the Sejm, the praesidiums of the various parties and to cabinet members, the Club of Jewish Deputies terms this decision of the Administrative Committee and assault on the constitutional rights of the national minorities. This change of the election ordinance is intended to reduce the parliamentary representation of the non-Polish population and is a direct violation of the constitutions of the republic and of the international treaties obligations, the Jewish deputies declare.

The deputies further appeal in their statement to public opinion in the country and abroad, pointing to the fact that these “chauvinistic tendencies will increase the friction between the different parts of the population of the Republic and harm it greatly.”