Since taking control of both the presidency and the parliament in November 2015, Poland’s far-right Law and Justice (PiS) party has swiftly changed the rules for public media, the secret service, education, and the military. In doing so, according to news outlets and human rights groups, PiS has consistently undermined principles of the rule of law and of the European Union, and is heading toward authoritarianism.
But something surprising happened last summer. President Andrzej Duda, a member of PiS, vetoed PiS legislation that would have put the legislature in charge of the judiciary as well. In doing so he surprised even his own party — showing the hazards of what political scientists call a “semi-presidential system,” explained below.… Seguir leyendo »
Major news outlets have erupted in recent days over protests in Poland to defend the independence of the nation’s judiciary.
During its last session before breaking for summer vacation, the Polish parliament (first the lower house, the Sejm; then on July 21, the Senate) approved legislation to drastically change the composition and functioning of Poland’s Supreme Court. The ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) had the votes to push the measures through. President Andrzej Duda has three weeks to sign the bill or veto it. Although he has noted some inconsistencies in two articles of the bill, he may still sign the bill into law, pending the resolution of these issues.… Seguir leyendo »
From Dec. 16 to Jan. 11, 10 members of parliament occupied the plenary hall of the Polish parliament (called the Sejm). The unprecedented blockade began with a protest against the right-wing ruling party’s ban on allowing the news media in the building. It continued as a way to object to what many have seen as an uncertain fate for the rule of law in Poland — including plans for a far-reaching reconstruction of the court system that could endanger the nation’s hold on democracy.
Until recently, Poland and Hungary were seen as examples of successful transitions to democracy. Each emerged from behind the Iron Curtain after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1989.… Seguir leyendo »
Poland is gripped by its most severe constitutional crisis since the Communist regime declared martial law in 1981, with protesters — both inside parliament and outside in the freezing streets — accusing the ruling party of threatening democracy.
Law and Justice (PiS), the party in power, has roots in the dissident trade union Solidarity, which helped bring down the Communist regime. But it has this in common with the authoritarian Communist PZPR, which ruled Poland between 1948 and 1989: It occupies an absolute majority of seats in the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish Parliament. Unlike the PZPR, it was elected in free and fair elections.… Seguir leyendo »