Row between PiS government and Constitutional Tribunal

Poland's Constitutional Tribunal has declared anti-constitutional a law with which, according to critics, the country's national-conservative government would practically paralyse the highest court. Is Poland sliding into a national crisis?

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Super Express (PL) /

Poland not very democratic even before PiS

The PiS government is not solely responsible for the fact that the rule of law is in a bad way in Poland, the conservative tabloid Super Express argues:

“Polish politicians have used the word democracy very frequently in recent times. Some say it doesn't exist any more because the PiS wants to weaken the Constitutional Tribunal. The party answers that everything is fine with democracy, because it's not as if the police were beating demonstrators with truncheons. In principle everyone's right to a certain extent. ... Poland ranks 48th on The Economist magazine's latest democracy index - behind Bulgaria, East Timor and even Trinidad and Tobago. And that's not just because of the PiS but also because of legacy left by the PO, which wasn't any better.”

Newsweek Polska (PL) /

Kaczyński has declared war on Poland

Poland's national-conservative government has rejected criticism by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe regarding the weakening of Poland's Constitutional Tribunal. Thousands of people are protesting against the government's policies. For the liberal news magazine Newsweek Polska a war has broken out over the future of the country:

“Kaczyński has declared war on millions of Poles. He has insulted them by destroying the rule of law, bending the constitution and turning a deaf ear to the voice of the civilised world. ... The fight that has broken out is the biggest since 1989. On the one hand it is about the form and foundations of the Polish state, and on the other about what our society should look like. It is a fight for the future of Poland, even if at first it only looks like a fight against a dictator who has overstepped his mandate, trampled on the rule of law and destroyed society.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Prague should feel free to criticise Duda

Polish President Andrzej Duda will make his first visit to the Czech Republic today. The conservative daily Lidové noviny is interested to see how Prague will position itself on the controversial developments in Poland under the PiS leadership:

“The Czech Republic and Poland are allies in the Visegrád Group, Nato and the EU. But does that mean we have to applaud everything our partner does? ... It will be interesting to see just what direction the partnership between the Polish conservatives and Duda will take. Toward joint resistance to the 'Brussels dictates', or toward our shared interests within the European Union, which is drifting apart to a dangerous extent. Being allies doesn't mean uncritically approving every little thing. Allies aren't vassals.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Opposition will cripple Poland's legal system

Now that the reform of Poland's Constitutional Tribunal has been declared unconstitutional the opposition will make sure all the other new laws passed under the PiS government are scrutinized too, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita fears:

“The legal consequences are the most dangerous of all the problems now arising. If all the laws are revised this will lead to new rulings and contradictory interpretations of the law. The knots this will create will be extremely difficult to unravel. The ruling made yesterday by the Constitutional Tribunal and the government's refusal to accept it have triggered a chain reaction that could lead to the complete dismantling of Poland's legal system.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Kaczyński's party has ended separation of powers

The separation of powers in Poland has effectively come to an end but no action will be taken to counter this state of affairs, the centre-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung observes:

“The government of an EU member state, the most important country in Central Europe, has deliberately placed itself outside the European legal framework. Jarosław Kaczyński and his Law and Justice Party (PiS), like any party aiming for authoritarian rule, want to effectively abolish a key principle of the modern constitutional state, namely that a government and its parliamentary majority must be subject to the controls of independent judges. … If things remain as they are, the EU Commission would normally have to impose sanctions on Warsaw and cut the billions in funding the country receives. The problem is that at a time when Brussels is wooing Turkey because of its key role in the refugee crisis, concerted action against countries violating the rules of democracy within the EU is unlikely.”

Gazeta Polska Codziennie (PL) /

Highest judge driving Poland into anarchy

The president of the Tribunal, Andrzej Rzepliński, is driving the country into the abyss, Jan Maria Jackowski writes in the pro-government, national-conservative daily Gazeta Polska Codziennie:

“We are facing the anarchisation of the Polish state, because there is not the slightest legal basis for Rzepliński's decision. He is abusing his authority and that of the Constitutional Tribunal to actively intervene in a political dispute. ... The result is an extraordinary situation that calls for appropriate measures on the part of the state. I hope that the state institutions that are responsible for preserving Poland's legal principles and constitutional order will react accordingly.”