Poland opens referendum on voting system, party funding

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poles voted in a referendum Sunday in which they were asked to weigh in on whether to change the voting system, the funding of political parties and taxation rules.

At least 50 percent of registered voters must cast ballots for the results to be binding. After polls closed in the evening, the state electoral commission said it wouldn't announce the results and the turnout until Monday evening.

The vote was set by former President Bronislaw Komorowski after a surprisingly poor showing in the first round of the presidential election in May. The move was seen as a last-ditch attempt by Komorowski to hold onto power by giving disgruntled voters the chance to weigh in on issues of concern to them. The tactic did not work — he lost the final round anyway to new conservative President Andrzej Duda.

Komorowski had been a popular president but lost amid a rising wave of frustration in a system many believe to be unresponsive to popular needs.

In the first round of the vote, a rock star, Pawel Kukiz, came in a surprise third by promising to introduce a British-style single-member constituency voting system to the lower house of parliament. Some Poles feel that that would make lawmakers more responsive to voters than they are under the current system of party lists.

The referendum asks voters if they want to introduce such a voting system. It also asks if they want to end public funding for political parties and whether disputes between taxpayers and the authorities should be resolved in favor of the taxpayers.

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