Polish order of precedence

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There is no official document specifying the order of precedence in Poland. In practice, the precedence of officials in Poland is based on an outdated informal instruction dating back to 1992. Polish civil servants responsible for the protocol often need to make ad hoc decisions based on tradition, general rules of etiquette and common sense.[1]

An official order of precedence existed during the Communist era, but it was rendered obsolete by the transition to democracy that started in 1989. In 1992, a new guideline was prepared by Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka, Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski, and Janusz Ziółkowski, the chief of the President's chancellery. The new document, however, was never formally adopted as legally binding. Furthermore, the adoption of the current Constitution of Poland in 1997, the territorial administration reform of 1999, Poland's entry into the European Union in 2004, and other events have rendered this guideline obsolete as well.[1]

The lack of an official regulation in this matter leaves so much ambiguity that the only office whose position in the order of precedence is generally accepted is that of the President of the Republic. In everyday usage, the precedence is often based on such criteria as: source of power (elected officials take precedence before appointed ones), position of the given office in the constitution, as well as a person's seniority and salary (better paid officials are assumed to be also more important). Many questions remain unresolved though. The marshals (speakers) of both chambers of parliament are usually considered to take precedence before the prime minister based on their position in the line of presidential succession. Opponents of this view argue that the prime minister is constitutionally more powerful and therefore should be treated as Poland's second top official. The precedence of individual ministers, as well as chiefs of chancelleries, is uncertain, as is the question of MPs' and senators' precedence before secretaries of State.[1]

The territorial administration reform has raised the question of the whether the voivode, the national government's representative in a voivoideship (region), takes precedence before the voivoideship marshal, a popularly elected head of a voivoideship, or vice versa. Similarly, with Poland's integration into the European Union, came the problem of Polish members of the European Parliament's position in the order of precedence. Another bone of contention is the position of ecclesiastical officials vis-à-vis secular ones. Traditionally, Roman Catholic clergymen are treated with great reverence in Poland and are often assigned very high – even if undue from the protocolar point of view – positions in the order of precedence.[1]

The list below is taken from the official website of Prime Minister's Chancellery.[2] It is based on the unofficial instruction of 1992 with later addition of several new offices created after that date. Offices that no longer exist, but are included in the list, are marked in italics.

Color key
Legislative power Executive power Judicial power Other
# English title Polish title Current office holders
As of 5 March 2013
1. President of the Republic of Poland Prezydent Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej Bronisław Komorowski[3]
2. Marshal of the Sejm
(Speaker of the lower house of parliament)
Marszałek Sejmu Ewa Kopacz[4]
3. Marshal of the Senate
(Speaker of the upper house of parliament)
Marszałek Senatu Bogdan Borusewicz[5]
4. President of the Council of Ministers
(Prime Minister)
Prezes Rady Ministrów
(Premier)
Donald Tusk[6]
5. Deputy Marshals of the Sejm
(Deputy speakers of the lower house of parliament)
Wicemarszałkowie Sejmu
6. Deputy Marshals of the Senate
(Deputy speakers of the upper house of parliament)
Wicemarszałkowie Senatu
7. Deputy Presidents of the Council of Ministers
(Deputy prime ministers)
Wiceprezesi Rady Ministrów
(Wicepremierzy)
8. Ministers – members of the presidium of the cabinet Ministrowie – członkowie prezydium rządu obsolete
9. Ministers – members of the Council of Ministers Ministrowie – członkowie Rady Ministrów
10. Ministers of State Ministrowie Stanu obsolete
11. President of the Constitutional Tribunal Prezes Trybunału Konstytucyjnego Andrzej Rzepliński[7]
12. First President of the Supreme Court
(Chief Justice)
Pierwszy Prezes Sądu Najwyższego Stanisław Dąbrowski[8]
13. President of the Supreme Administrative Court Prezes Naczelnego Sądu Administracyjnego Roman Hauser[9]
14. President of the Supreme Audit Office Prezes Najwyższej Izby Kontroli Jacek Jezierski[10]
15. Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection
(Ombudsman)
Rzecznik Praw Obywatelskich Irena Lipowicz[11]
16. Presidents and chairpersons of national-level administrative offices and committees Prezesi i przewodniczący urzędów, komitetów i komisji sprawujących funkcje naczelnych lub centralnych organów administracji państwowej
17. Chairpersons of Sejm committees Przewodniczący komisji sejmowych
18. Chairpersons of Senate committees Przewodniczący komisji senackich
19. Members of Sejm Posłowie na Sejm
20. Senators Senatorowie
21. Secretaries of State Sekretarze Stanu
22. Chief of the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland Szef Kancelarii Prezydenta Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej Jacek Michałowski[12]
23. Chiefs of the Chancelleries of the Sejm and of the Senate Szefowie Kancelarii Sejmu i Senatu
  • Lech Czapla (Sejm)[13]
  • Ewa Polkowska (Senate)[14]
24. Chief of the Chancellery of the President of the Council of Ministers Szef Kancelarii Prezesa Rady Ministrów Jacek Cichocki is already higher in the order of precedence because he is also a member of the Council of Ministers.[6]
25. Presidents of the Supreme Court Prezesi Sądu Najwyższego
  • Tadeusz Ereciński (Civil Chamber)
  • Lech Paprzycki (Criminal Chamber)
  • Walerian Sanetra (Labour, Social Security and Public Affairs Chamber)
  • Janusz Godyń (Military Chamber)[8]
26. Undersecretaries of State Podsekretarze Stanu
27. Chief of the General Staff and commanders of the branches of the Armed Forces Szef Sztabu Generalnego i dowódcy wojsk
  • Gen. Mieczysław Cieniuch (Chief of the General Staff)
  • Lt. Gen. Zbigniew Głowienka (Commander of the Land Forces)
  • Lt. Gen. Lech Majewski (Commander of the Air Force)
  • VAdm. Tomasz Mathea (Commander of the Navy)
  • Brig. Gen. Piotr Patalong (Commander of the Special Forces)[15]
28. Polish ambassadors Polscy ambasadorowie
29. Voivodes
(Governors)
Wojewodowie
30. Deputy presidents and chairpersons of national-level administrative offices and committees Zastępcy prezesów i przewodniczących urzędów, komitetów i komisji sprawujących funkcje naczelnych lub centralnych organów administracji państwowej
31. Directors General Dyrektorzy generalni
32. Directors Dyrektorzy

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • (Polish) Orłowski, Tomasz (2006). Protokół Dyplomatyczny. Ceremoniał & etykieta. Warsaw: Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych. ISBN 83-89607-31-X. 

External links[edit]