Auteur: Aleksandra Eriksson
Poland’s president Andrzej Duda has called the Polish constitution an "act of transition”, saying there is need for a public debate on how to update the text.
He already suggested there should be better protection of families, especially those with disabled children.
”Where are the standards that would really define modernity in the current world?” he asked rhetorically.
”How is it possible that the constitution, the constitutional court in theory are supposed to defend civil rights, but still it was possible to raise the retirement age for Poles and they had no protection against it? Who wrote the constitution and how is it guarded?” he asked again.
He spoke on 3 May, which is a public holiday in Poland. It marks the 1792 constitution that Poles believe is the world’s second oldest, after the American, but before the French. It lasted for only a year but helped unite the nation after Poland disappeared from the map in 1795 after it was divided by neighbouring powers.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, used the occasion to announce a constitutional review to take off in 2017.
His party currently lacks the parliamentary seats required to change Poland’s basic law.
But that’s a matter of "the next term”, Kaczynski gauged. In the meantime, his party will plan possible changes.
”We have a lot to offer to the Polish society. We can really achieve a great victory”, he told a conference in the Polish parliament on 2 May.
Earlier this year, the EU started monitoring the rule of law in Poland in a special procedure after the ruling Law and Justice party adopted a law effectively paralysing the work of Poland’s constitutional court.
Kaczynski attacked the president of the constitutional court, Andrzej Rzeplinski for causing the constitutional crisis.
”President Rzeplinski rejected our compromise. We'll go our own way, we’ll settle the matter. We won’t agree to anarchy in Poland, even if this anarchy is guarded by the courts”, he said on Tuesday.
Andrzej Rzeplinski later replied to the accusations by quipping that ”politicians say things”.
”There was talk of a compromise”, he noted and added that a solution would consist of accepting the oath of three judge-designates that the Law and Justice government refuses to swear in, as well as publishing the court’s verdicts, which is a formal requirement for them to enter into force.
”It a very simple compromise”, Rzeplinski concluded and urged Law and Justice to stop the ”hybrid war” with the court.
Poland risks a dual legal system, as the conservative ruling party is making laws that the top court deems non-constitutional. Several courts have said they will follow the constitutional court’s rulings, rather than the government's.
European Commission’s vice president Frans Timmermans will travel to Warsaw on Saturday to follow up on the rule of law procedure.
Many Poles demonstrated on 3 May in support of the rule of law.
In Warsaw, a dozen of activists from the Committee in Defence of Democracy protested in front of the presidential palace. They held up a placard of the first page of the Polish constitution with a footprint of a shoe on it. They urged the president not to trample on the consitution.