Monday

19th Aug 2019

Poland's ruling party shows true colours

  • Jaroslaw Kaczynski , leader of Poland's ruling party does not shy away from pushing through controversial decisions (Photo: pis.org.pl)

Poland’s newly installed right-wing governing party is showing off its confrontational style by trying to replace already appointed constitutional judges with its own appointees on Thursday (27 November) and by upping its rhetoric against Russia.

The ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) used its majority in the Sejm, Poland’s lower house of parliament, to passed resolutions reversing recent appointments of five judges to the highest court.

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It will now be able to push for its own judges, who it hopes will clear the way for planned sweeping constitutional changes.

PiS plans to create new administrative regions, amend the constitution, and restructure the judiciary.

The move resembles Hungary prime minister Viktor Orban’s tactics, who amid international criticism curbed the rights of constitutional judges to cripple their ability to scrutinise legal changes.

Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski often praised Orban’s governing style, using his majority to rewrite Hungary’s constitution and override opponents.

Kaczynski on Wednesday said the court, which has the final say on constitutional matters, is filled with his political opponents, and would try to hamper the government’s work.

The judges were appointed by the previous parliament dominated by then ruling Civic Platform. PiS said its predecessor pushed through the appointments knowing it will lose the elections, and preempting decisions by the new parliament.

Opposition MPs and the chairman of the court criticised the move.

"Law and Justice is over. Today it's Lawlessness and Injustice," Ewa Kopacz, former prime minister, said, and her party, Civic Platform accused PiS of being the “shame of Europe”.

Russia, the enemy

The newly elected Polish government also confirmed expectations it will be more confrontational with Moscow.

Russia's foreign ministry said on Thursday Poland's call to annul a Nato act that prevents it from having permanent military bases on its soil was “extraordinarily dangerous and exceptionally provocative,” AFP reported.

Poland's new foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski on Wednesday called for scrapping the 1997 act on Nato-Russia relations to let the alliance install the bases, although the Polish foreign ministry insisted Thursday evening that Moscow had “misunderstood” Waszczykowski.

“The behaviour of Russia, blackmailing Central Europe, is a confrontation against the whole of Nato,” Waszczykowski said.

Poland already announced plans to increase its army by 50 percent, form 100,000 to 150,000 to “guarantee the integrity” of the nation’s borders.

The move reflects growing Polish security concerns, and a deep distrust directed at Moscow after Russia intervened in neighboring Ukraine and annexed part if its territory, Crimea.

Beata Szydlo, Poland’s new prime minister who took office this month called Russia Poland’s “enemy."

The new Polish government is also expected to reopen an investigation into the death of president Lech Kaczynski in a plane crash in Russia in 2010, a move likely to further strain ties with Moscow.

A previous government inquiry deemed the crash occurred because of an error the pilot made, but the PiS party, now in power, and led by Kaczynski's twin brother Jaroslaw, says an onboard explosion could have caused the tragedy.

It accuses Moscow of stalling the investigation by withholding evidence, sic as the plane’s wreckage.

EP to hold debate on Kaczynski's Poland

Centre-right, centre-left, and liberal MEPs want a debate, next week, on democratic backsliding in Poland. But Polish politicians say it's too soon.

Orban praises von der Leyen after first face-to-face

The EU Commission president-elect said she had a "good talk" with Hungary's controversial premier. Orban returned the praise, saying said the former German defence minister "thinks with [a] central Europeans' head".

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