April Constitution of Poland

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The April Constitution of Poland (Polish: Ustawa konstytucyjna 23 IV 1935 or Konstytucja kwietniowa) was the general law passed by the act of the Polish Sejm on 23 April 1935. It introduced in Poland a presidential system with certain elements of authoritarianism.

It was accepted in violation of the earlier March Constitution of 1921 and the Rules of the Parliament [1], and as such it was questioned by most of the opposition to the rule of Sanacja.

It is commonly believed that the drafting of the constitution was heavily influenced by Józef Piłsudski, who died two and a half weeks after the constitution was passed.

The act introduced the idea that the state is a common good of all the citizens. It also limited the powers of the Sejm and Senat while strengthening the authority of the President of Poland. The President was responsible for choosing the members of the government, which in turn was responsible to the parliament. He also had a right to dismiss the parliament before the end of term, to name one third of the Senators, the commander-in-chief of the Polish Army and the General Inspector of the Armed Forces.

He also had a right to issue decrees and veto the acts passed by the Sejm non-constructively.

Among the most notable features of the new constitution was the president's right to name his successor in case of war. This was used as the legal base for the existence of the Polish Government in Exile during and after the World War II. The constitution was officially abolished in 1944 by the Soviet-backed communist authorities of Poland, who officially returned to the March Constitution, while introducing many laws based on the Stalinist system. The Government in Exile operated under the April Constitution until December 1990, when it conferred succession upon Lech Walesa following the latter's election to the Polish presidency.

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