Poland Officially Becomes the Playground of Law and Justice

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President Andrzej Duda has just signed the act passed recently by both the Polish parliament (o, hail, the parliamentary majority of Law and Justice!) and the Senate (yay! another session held at 3am!) that is to alter the way in which Constitutional Tribunal operates. So now instead of 5 independent judges we’ll have 15 (thus 13 will be necessary to make a binding decision) judges of somewhat dubious background while all claims will be scrutinized according to the chronological order in which they have been filed. Sounds sound, but is it really?

First of all, it already seemed fishy that the recently appointed government, after quite successfully winning the October parliamentary elections (according to the State Electoral Commission with 37,58 of votes which equals app. 5.8 mln of votes) and which thusfeels as if it is inclined to disregard any opinions of the opposition on any matter debated in the session chamber (‘debated’ being to strong of a word for what was really rather an execution of the opposition completely disreagrding and not answering any questions…), has to hurry all the changes intended to be introduced in the country as if ‘Paris was burning’. And maybe not Paris, but the EU will soon be burning as Poland is one of the key player in the already embarked on struggle with our Eastern neighbours.

Secondly, the changes that are currently heating u the debate in Poland are not that much aligned with the campaign slogans of the ruling party – or at least, nobody in the government except for the voters and the opposition (and maybe President Duda who still believes they will miraculously come true) remembers them right now. After all, there are much more vital changes than supporting families (the infamous ‘PLN 500 for each child’ program) or helping people pay less in taxes (the well-advertised program of raising the tax-exempt sum which, according to the leader of .Nowoczesna party Ryszard Petru is not even included in the next year’s budget) are needed right now. And it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Constitutional Tribunal comes first. Even though we are all still quite bewildered with all that has happened throughout the past two months, knowing of what Law and Justice is capable (or at least predicting it) is one thing, but seeing it with our own eyes is a horse of a different color. And the grey eminence of the ruling party, although still quite successfully hiding in the shadows (for example, he didn’t appear in the Christmas TV spot produced by the Chancellary of the PM Beata Szydło but he was actually even more conspicuous by his absence), is really effectively shaking the fundaments of the state.

The president appears either completely misguided or simply sucessfully led by the hand by the infamous puppet master Jarosław Kaczyński – either way, in the today’s announcement in which President Andrzej Duda attempted to explain why he has decided to sign the act on Constitutional Tribunal he blatantly stated that he believes that the act actually strengthtens the competences of the Tribunal and that by signing it he hopes that all controversy and idle argumentation against the act will be silenced. Because „Poles desire no disturbance” and thus no disturbance (from the opposition, I wonder?) will arise in the new order. It’s so good to know that the president still cares about us all so much (as during his presidential campaign when he was referred to as the “President of every Pole”) that he sacrificed his family Christmas to ponder over how much the entire society will benefit from the act. I feel so much better right now, don’t you?

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the president claimed with certainty that the act “shall not have any detrimental effect on the separation of powers” in Poland that I have almost spit off my tea over the table. Well, of course it shan’t as both the separation of powers and the Constitutional Tribunal (both defined and guaranteed by Polish Constitution) are treated by Law and Justice as a somewhat obsolete remnant of the “shamefull Third Republic of Poland” (yet another interesting remark of the president) so it’s best to get rid of them – if not completely, then at least in practice. How can you o it? Well, that’s a piece of cake! According to Ryszard Petru, who right after the presidential briefing commented on its merits, all these good intentions behind introducing changes into the Constitutional Tribunal are bogus and the idea of dealing with the filed claimes chronologically will backfire as soon as Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro clogs its pipes filing a hundred of his own silly little claims.

Meanwhile, Polish society gets more and more frustrated – they feel cheated by the government as it doesn’t seem to even want to go through with its electoral promises in the nearest future and all it cares about is turning Poland into their own playground. And President Duda trying to publicly convince himself that “Poles expect a positive change” seems to me like repeating a mantra or a magic spell that is to help him survive the rage that will soon follow his disregard of his duties as the president of a democratic country and the defender of the Constitution.

Olga Labendowicz