Duda scraps legal reform 

Duda scraps legal reform 

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has abandoned his bid to amend the constitution to give him power over the judiciary, amid ongoing arguments with the European Union and street protests. 

Duda performed the U-turn hours after proposing the amendment, when he learned at a meetings with MPs that he would not have enough parliamentary backing for the move.

“There’s no chance for this amendment to pass,” Duda told the media. The opposition parties Nowoczesna and Civic Platform (PO) refused to back the legislation.

Duda announced his own version of judicial controls after he vetoed controversial government measures in July, angering his allies in the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.

The nationalist PiS was looking to deepen political control over the Supreme Court and allow MPs to choose members of a body designed to protect judicial independence.

PiS said the courts needed to be overhauled because they were inefficient.

The far-right party says it wants to reform Communist-influenced institutions, bolster Poland’s international reputation, preserve its conservative values and correct mistakes by previous governments that it said were too dependent on foreign influence.

The PiS bills were criticised by the EU, which threatened to impose sanctions if the legislation was not scrapped.

Since coming to power, PiS has increased government influence over the courts but has also brought prosecutors and state media under direct control and restricted public gatherings.

Duda did approve a law which gave the government the right to name the heads of lower courts.

The president proposed that 60 per cent of parliamentarians would be required to select members of the court watchdog KRS, so that no single party could dominate selection.

He tried to reject the justice minister’s plan to immediately fire the current Supreme Court judges.

Duda also recommending giving citizens a way to make official complaints about final court verdicts they considered incorrect.

“If [MPs] are unable to choose via three-fifths voting, then each lawmaker will then have only one vote. That means that every lawmaker will only be able to vote for a single KRS candidate,” said Duda.

“This will result in a multiparty selection of KRS members,” Duda explained, as only around 30 votes would be needed to elect a KRS member.

Poland’s Supreme Court. Picture credit: Flickr 

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