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Polish MPs vote to address effects of constitutional crisis

07.03.2024 09:00
Poland's lower house of parliament, the Sejm, has passed a resolution that lawmakers say is aimed at rectifying the aftermath of a constitutional crisis that spanned from 2015 to 2023.
Justice Minister Adam Bodnar addresses the lower house of Polands parliament in Warsaw on Wednesday, March 6, 2024.
Justice Minister Adam Bodnar addresses the lower house of Poland's parliament in Warsaw on Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

This crisis involved controversies surrounding the functioning of the Constitutional Tribunal, Poland's highest court adjudicating on constitutional matters.

The resolution was supported by 240 members, with 197 opposing, and no abstentions.

The Sejm on Wednesday emphasized the importance of re-establishing a Constitutional Tribunal that respects the rule of law, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

Government officials say the vote reflects a concerted effort to overhaul the Tribunal in order to ensure its independence from short-term political interests, and reinstate its ability to operate under the principles laid out in the Polish constitution in a spirit of democratic values and legal accountability.

This decision marks a pivotal move by the ruling coalition, comprised of the liberal Civic Coalition (KO), the center-right Poland 2050 group, the rural-based Polish People's Party (PSL), and the Left, against the backdrop of a political landscape previously dominated by the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party and associated right-wing interests.

The resolution's approval was preceded by a rejected PiS motion to dismiss the proposal, which demonstrates a parliament divided on the issue of constitutional integrity and judicial independence.

A key aspect of the resolution is a call for the resignations of the current Constitutional Tribunal judges, which the governing coalition says is necessary in order to facilitate democratic reforms.

During the debate, MP Bogdan Zdrojewski (KO) highlighted Poland's international obligations to uphold the law, judicial independence and the separation of powers.

The controversy traces back to October 8, 2015, when the previous Sejm elected five new judges, leading to a series of disputed decisions that questioned the legitimacy of some judges' appointments.

The resolution challenges the validity of these appointments and, consequently, decisions made by the Tribunal, citing a breach of constitutional and international legal principles.

This legislative move, presented by Justice Minister Adam Bodnar and representatives of the ruling coalition, is accompanied by proposed laws concerning the functioning of the Tribunal and constitutional amendments aimed at securing democratic principles as the Tribunal's foundation.


Source: IAR, PAP