Poland's senate approves controversial court reform

During the vote, thousands of citizens demonstrated in front of the Senate and the Supreme Court in Warsaw, as well as in other cities of the country, calling on Polish President Andrzej Duda to refuse to ratify the bill and prevent it from entering into force.

Lapinski said that Duda sees inconsistency between two articles regarding the appointment of the court's head.

People attend a protest against supreme court legislation in Wroclaw, Poland, Friday.

Critics say the law kills judicial independence and threatens the rule of law.

At the same time, many thousands of Poles are protesting against their power-hungry, authoritarian regime in Warsaw.

European Union officials disagree, and if the Supreme Court measure goes into effect, it could trigger an effort in Brussels to strip Poland of its voting rights in decisions of the bloc - a never-invoked nuclear option.

THE CONFLICT between the EU Commission and the misnamed Law and Justice government in Poland is a case - to adapt Oscar Wilde - of the unedifying in pursuit of the unspeakable.

If the PiS government does not back down, Poland could face fines and even a suspension of its voting rights, although other eurosceptic European Union governments, notably Hungary, are likely to veto strict punishments.

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Protester Tadeusz Przybylski, 61, said he opposed the communists decades ago and was back now because the ruling party's moves to control the judiciary have led to a "lack of democracy and justice". The article allows the union to pursue sanctions against a member state if that country is said to be committing fundamental rights violations. "We will not be intimidated by Polish and foreign defenders of the interests of the elite".

The KRS revamp has been approved by parliament and is awaiting Polish President Andrzej Duda's signature.

Critics at home and overseas say the legislation is part of a drift towards authoritarianism by the government, which espouses nationalist rhetoric coupled with left-leaning economic policy.

Duda won election as a Law and Justice member but has left the party in accord with Poland's tradition of a nonpartisan presidency.

Senator Aleksander Bobko, of the right-wing PiS party, said that ending the term of the first Supreme Court president was an obvious violation of the constitution.

The second bill was approved by the lower chamber of Parliament Thursday-triggering the pro-democracy protests-but still must be approved by the upper house, then signed by Duda, to take effect.

From a window high up in the building, a former leader of the Senate, Bogdan Borusewicz, called out encouragement to protesters, saying, "You are giving us strength".

In Trump's troubling and unusual speech in Poland two weeks ago, the USA president said he was honored "to address the Polish nation that so many generations have dreamed of: a Poland that is safe, strong, and free". The poll was conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, amid large street protests against the party's plan for the judiciary.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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