Polish opposition parties vow action to block legal changes
PR dla Zagranicy
Poland's often-fractious opposition parties on Monday vowed they would work together to block sweeping changes to the judiciary planned by the country's ruling conservatives.
Nowoczesna leader Ryszard Petru. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka
The Polish government has said changes are vital to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system.
But critics have accused the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party of aiming to stack courts with its own candidates and to dismantle the rule of law in Poland. PiS denies such charges.
Protest outside parliament
With tensions running high, thousands of demonstrators on Sunday protested against the planned judicial changes outside the Supreme Court and the Polish parliament in Warsaw.
The next day politicians from the opposition Civic Platform (PO), Nowoczesna (“Modern”) and the Polish People’s Party (PSL) -- which have often been at loggerheads with each other -- met in the Polish parliament.
The opposition Kukiz '15 grouping did not take part in the gathering.
"We agreed that we will coordinate our actions, that from now on we will meet every morning and evening to discuss what action we are taking," said Katarzyna Lubnauer, head of the Nowoczesna parliamentary club, after the meeting.
‘Attack on Supreme Court’
“We agreed that we will constantly keep in touch with each other... to stop this attack on the Supreme Court," Lubnauer told reporters.
Supporters of the ruling Law and Justice party have criticised Polish courts for taking too long to hear cases, and have accused judges of being an elite, self-serving clique often out of touch with the problems of ordinary citizens.
A government-backed bill would see the Supreme Court’s existing judges retired, with reinstatement only possible after the justice minister’s approval.
Other planned changes to courts have also been attacked by critics claiming the Law and Justice party is leading the country toward a “socialist dictatorship” in which the judiciary would be controlled by politicians.
Law and Justice has brushed off such accusations, claiming that judges who oppose its planned changes are defending vested interests rather than upholding the rights of citizens.