What is behind Duda's constitutional reform?

Polish President Andrzej Duda has presented a counterproposal to the government's controversial plans for judicial reform and changes to the constitution. Under his proposals the government would have less influence on the appointment of judges while the president would have more. Commentators criticise the move and see it in part as an attack against PiS leader Kaczyński.

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Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Duda is completely untrustworthy

The opposition should not support Duda's initiative, Gazeta Wyborcza argues:

“Nowhere is it written in the constitution that you can amnesty someone who hasn't been legally convicted, that you can swear judges into the Constitutional Court although other judges have already been appointed [by the previous government]. And nowhere is it written that the president should be subservient to the chairman of the ruling party. But Duda has amnestied [PiS politician Mariusz Kaminski], he has approved of the swearing in of [unlawfully appointed judges], and he serves the party chairman [Kaczyński]. There is no reason why the opposition should give the president new privileges or anchor these in the constitution. Nor is there any reason why the opposition should support the constitutional amendments proposed by a president who deliberately violates the constitution. Regarding constitutional issues the president is completely untrustworthy.”

Newsweek Polska (PL) /

A move against Kaczyński

Duda's counter-proposal to the judicial reform will pose problems for the current leader of the PiS, Newsweek Polska predicts:

“Duda's attack is ultimately a move against the party leader [Jarosław Kaczyński]. ... Because it is delaying the party's plan to take control of the judiciary, the last remaining piece of the puzzle in its bid to take total control of the state. If Kaczyński had the judiciary on his side, he could push through his reform of the private media or changes in the voting system that will favour the PiS without any problems. ... The PiS would like to get rid of its 'pen' in the presidential palace and replace him with another if he refuses to sign [the laws presented to him by the government]. But Kaczyński, the self-appointed head of state, can't do this.”