Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, has surprised observers by vetoing legislation from his own Law and Justice party that would have defanged the judiciary.
Closer scrutiny suggests Duda’s opposition is less meaningful than it is made out to be, though.
The president has said he will sign the bills if they are amended and Leonid Bershidsky argues at Bloomberg View that his proposed changes don’t deviate from the legislation’s objective: “to put the judiciary, which the party argues has turned into an elitist caste, under more political control.” Read more
Poland’s Ruling Nationalist Party Steps Up Assault on Judiciary
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party pushed through more changes to the court system on Wednesday:
One bill takes power to appoint members to the National Judicial Council, which is responsible for appointing lower-level judges, away from the judiciary itself and gives it to parliament, where Law and Justice has a majority.
The same law removes fifteen of the 25 judges currently serving on the National Judicial Council.
A second bill gives the justice minister the power to unilaterally replace court presidents. Read more
EU Threatens Sanctions Against Central European States
The European Parliament has opened an investigation into the state of democracy and rule of law in Hungary, which is ruled by the self-described illiberal democrat Viktor Orbán.
The resolution, introduced by liberal and left-wing groups, passed on Wednesday with the support of 68 members of the conservative European People’s Party, to which Orbán’s Fidesz belongs.
The mainstream right has long shielded Budapest from scrutiny, despite Orbán’s years of attacks on the courts, the central bank and the media, the removal of checks on his parliamentary majority and his pursuing of economic and migration policies that defy the European mainstream. Read more
Poland’s Opposition to Multispeed Europe Is Ill-Considered
The first thing Poland’s Law and Justice party did when it returned to power a year ago was pick a fight with Germany.
Jarosław Kaczyński’s national-conservative party, which controls both the presidency and parliament, has yet to forgive Germany for what it did to Poland seventy years ago.
When Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, accused the Poles of hypocrisy for expecting European solidarity in the face of Russian threats but refusing to help the rest of Europe cope with a refugee crisis, Mariusz Błaszczak, the interior minister, felt it necessary to invoke World War II. He called Schulz’ comments “another example of German arrogance” and pointed out, “We are talking in Warsaw. Warsaw was destroyed by the Germans.”
Now the prospect of Schulz coming to power in Berlin has Błaszczak’s party scrambling to repair Polish relations with his rival, Angela Merkel. Read more
Poland’s Law and Justice Party Finally Went Too Far
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party backed away from controversial press reforms on Tuesday after several nights of street demonstrations in the capital Warsaw.
The concession is a rare victory for the liberal-minded opposition, which has otherwise been unable to stop Law and Justice from reversing the last twenty years of Poland’s democratization and liberalization. Read more