Poland Passes Law That EU Says Threatens Country’s Democracy
Poland’s upper house of Parliament on Saturday passed a sweeping and controversial judicial bill despite massive nationwide protests and the threat of EU sanctions.
The new legislation gives the nationalist ruling party extensive control over the nation’s court system, a move which critics say brings into question the country’s judicial independence.
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Once the bill is signed, the ruling Law and Justice Party, or PiS, will have the ability to force the resignation of all of Poland’s top judges and appoint its own members to the Supreme Court.
Opponents of the move argue that it will demolish judicial independence and separation of powers in the country, marking a major shift for a ruling government that has already been accused of pursuing an illiberal agenda.
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The changes to the judiciary, if approved by the president, are set to consolidate even more power in the hands of PiS, which took office with a slight parliamentary majority in late 2015.
Since then, the party has made changes to the Constitutional Tribunal ― a body that can rule laws unconstitutional ― and curbed the independence of public broadcasters and civil society groups.
Poland has also clashed with the EU over the country’s refusal to take part in a refugee resettlement plan that would more equitably divide asylum-seekers among member states.
As a result of Poland’s refusal, the EU is currently seeking legal action against the state.