Polish President Approves Tighter Rules for Constitutional Court

  • Law toughens terms for rulings on legality of new policies
  • Approval is next step in conflict over rule of law in Poland

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda signed a law that makes it harder for the constitutional court to overturn legislation.

The bill increases the number of judges needed to pass a ruling and the majority required for a verdict. Law & Justice, Duda’s former party, proposed the legislation after overturning the previous parliament’s appointment of judges to the tribunal, which the current panel deemed illegal.

The conflict over the court sparked protests across Poland and eroded support for Law & Justice, which is consolidating power after a landslide victory in a general election on Oct. 25. Thousands of Poles took to the streets in protest against what they saw as a violation of the system of checks and balances guaranteed by the constitution.

“The new law strengthens the position and the authority of the court and its rulings,” Duda said at a press briefing in Warsaw. “I believe it will help end the dispute over the Constitutional Court.”

Law & Justice is attacking civic rights in Poland, Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska, deputy parliament speaker from opposition party Civic Platform said after Duda’s address. Nowoczesna.pl, the second-biggest opposition group in parliament, will appeal the law to the Constitutional Court, its leader Ryszard Petru said. Duda “is deceiving Poles,” he said.

More than two-thirds of Poles view Duda as dependent on Law & Justice and its leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, while 58 percent said the decisions made by the president and the parliamentary majority are a threat to democracy, according to a TNS poll from Dec. 11-12.

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