Newspaper article International New York Times

Government in Poland Is Rebuked by Europe ; Right-Wing Government Faces Growing Calls to End Impasse with Judges

Newspaper article International New York Times

Government in Poland Is Rebuked by Europe ; Right-Wing Government Faces Growing Calls to End Impasse with Judges

Article excerpt

The European Parliament adopted a resolution urging the right- wing government in Warsaw to respect the decisions of a top court.

The European Parliament accused Poland's right-wing government on Wednesday of undermining democracy, overwhelmingly adopting a resolution urging it to respect the decisions of a top Polish court.

A constitutional crisis that has gripped the country for five months has allowed the Law and Justice party to govern with a free hand, prompting protests nationwide.

The European Parliament resolution, backed by a coalition of liberal and left-wing factions and passed in a meeting in Strasbourg, France, calls on the Polish government to respect the decisions of the country's Constitutional Tribunal, which is empowered to review Poland's laws. The motion urged the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, to take actions to force the Polish government to follow the resolution's recommendations. If Warsaw fails to do so, it could face penalties.

Representatives of Law and Justice quickly denounced the vote, calling it "absurd" and saying the government would not comply with it.

After Law and Justice swept to power in October, it appointed five judges to the Constitutional Tribunal, ignoring the judges who had been chosen by the previous government. It later passed a law that severely limited the tribunal's powers. Law and Justice contended that because the previous government had improperly appointed two of those judges -- as the Constitutional Tribunal had ruled -- none of the five should be seated.

In December, though, the tribunal ruled that the three judges who had been properly appointed by the previous government should be seated. Law and Justice refused, and Poland's president, Andrzej Duda, who was a member of the party until May 2015, declined to swear in the judges.

Last month, the tribunal struck down the new law restricting its powers. …

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