The amendment radically changes how rulings are made by the highest legislative court, the constitutional tribunal, and its signing by Duda follows warnings from the European Union and nationwide street protests.
“This is the end of democracy in Poland. They have broken the country,” Mateusz Kijowski told the Guardian. The figurehead of Komitet Obrony Demokracji – whose demonstrations in the past three weeks have drawn tens of thousands of people on to the streets – called for international condemnation of the conservative nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government, which was elected in October.
“The United States and Europe need to speak loud and clear in condemnation. They must help us, otherwise Poland will leave the community of democracies,’’ he warned.
After news broke on Monday morning that Duda had signed into law the constitutional tribunal bill, he made a speech on television defending his move.
“I think the solution greatly enhances the role and independence of the constitutional tribunal. I believe this act brings to a close the dispute around the constitutional tribunal,’’ said Duda, a lawyer by profession.
Poland’s crisis began last month when the government appointed five judges to the 15-member tribunal.
The amendment, passed through parliament and the senate over Christmas, requires the court to adopt rulings by a two-thirds majority with at least 13 judges present. Critics say the move will slow down the court and is intended to force it to include the five new judges, who are seen as close to PiS, or leave it unable to pass rulings.
PiS gained an absolute majority in the 25 October parliamentary elections, five months after Duda, who is also from the party, was elected. It is the first time since the end of communism that Poland has been ruled by a single party.
But critics say PiS has a hardline agenda, similar to that of Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán. In its first weeks in government, PiS removed the provision of IVF under the national health system. Laws currently in parliament include anti-terror legislation that critics say will curtail freedom of movement and expression.
Opposition politician Barbara Nowacka, the leader of the United Left coalition, said: “This is only the beginning. The next step will be a move to control the media and for the prosecutor general to be appointed by the justice ministry.”
She said international condemnation “will not impress’’ the government: “They will not take any notice, just as Orbán has ignored criticism from the European Union. But we, the opposition and the people of Poland, need the support of the international community to defend democracy.’’
She suggested that one of the most powerful external actors could be Britain, due to the estimated 1.3 million Poles living there who send home valuable remittances to families in Poland.
Nowacka said: ‘’David Cameron wants to limit the rights of Poles to claim benefit. The Polish government will have to listen to those threats and, through them, could perhaps be forced to see reason.’’
Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza quoted US sources saying Barack Obama had objections and had let it be known he would delay meeting Duda. The newspaper also suggested Poland’s hosting of the next Nato summit – planned for July 2016 – was in the balance.
The European commission vice-president, Frans Timmermans, and the European parliament president, Martin Schulz, are among those who have criticised the tribunal change.
Actual footage of the PiS leadership after passing the legislation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_DqV1xdf-Y
The way i see it, the authoritarian assholes won the majority this thime because it was the lesser evil of 2 big parties in poland (lesser parties do not count at all because nobody has the balls to vote on them) and the other, less conservative party was shit and it was known they were planning to do similar democracy-fucking things, so people were not really voting for PiS, they were voting for 'anybody else than Citizen's Platform (PO)' and since polacks pretend that smaller parties don't exist it meant voting on the direct opposition every single time. and thats the result, they can basically do whatever the fuck they want.
that said i am shit at politics and may have this completely wrong
Got to quickly leave this country, it is the last chance until it turns into second Belarus. Today the Parliament votes new Police Act (legal police invigilation of private messages, phone calls and internet among the citizens - with no limit, for 18 months, without informing the person), new Prosecution Act (merging Chief of Prosecution with Minister of Justice and make prosecutors subsequent to the ruling party), new Budget Act (prognoses state deficit on about 55 billion złoty, really much money for our country), and new Public Media Act, to make them (and indirectly private media too) subsequent to the government.... Everything will be voted today, tomorrow by the Senates and the President signs it by the evening… This is how you make law today in Poland. And the last bastion of hope which could stop them, the Constitutional Tribunal has successfully been destroyed today.