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World's press backs Tusk in constitutional crisis

12.01.2024 00:05
Press review: An overview of selected international outlets on the latest events in Poland's ongoing constitutional crisis. 
President Duda alongside the wives of jailed former ministers Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik - announcing second pardon for their husbands.
President Duda alongside the wives of jailed former ministers Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik - announcing "second" pardon for their husbands.Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

Poland's ongoing constitutional crisis reached another dramatic point today as President Duda agreed to pardon convicted Law and Justice politicians Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik. The two former heads of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau ("CBA") were convicted by a Warsaw court for falsifying documents and illegal surveillance while undertaking a sting operation in 2006-2007. 

President Duda, sharing the same party background (PiS - Law and Justice), pardoned the two men in 2015 when their conviction was still being appealed. Polish legal opinion has been divided about whether the President has the power to pardon accused persons before legal proceedings have been completed and the convictions validated.

One significant argument against recognising a presidential pardon prior to conviction is that this precedent would allow for "blank cheques" to be made out to Law and Justice politicians, pardoning them for future convictions. This would effectively place politicians above the law and undermine the judiciary.   

The majority of international press reports stand firmly behind the new government under Donald Tusk in its perceived attempt to restore the rule of law to Poland. One notable exception, however, is:


The Brexit leader Nigel Farage, today a journalist for the populist-right GBNews, has repeatedly voiced support for Poland's Eurosceptic Law and Justice. In GBNews interviews conducted by Farage and Michael Portillo (also a former Eurosceptic politician), Law and Justice politicians Dominik Tarczyński and Mateusz Morawiecki have attacked Donald Tusk's media reforms. Morawiecki described the reforms as "liquidation by force" of state media, "by the Police". This is a somewhat misleading "mistranslation" of what should be described as "putting state media into liquidation (receivership)" through the National Court Registry. 

However, GBNews at the time of writing has yet to address the latest developments. 

The liberal New York Times clearly backs Tusk, with its headline "Standoff at the Presidential Palace Shows Poland's Right Just Won't Go Quietly" suggesting that Law and Justice is obstructing the handover of power. 

The liberal-left Guardian goes with the headline "Poland's populist president to pardon jailed ministers from previous government". In case readers had any doubts, the outlet follows that with "would defy Supreme court ruling". 

France's centre-left Le Monde comes close to accusing the Polish President of "harbouring" known criminals with its subtitle: "Polish police on Tuesday arrested two politicians convicted of abuse of power who had taken refuge for hours in the palace of President Andrzej Duda in a dramatic escalation of a standoff between the new and previous governments."

Sources: Super Express, GBNews, New York Times, Guardian, Le Monde