Fri | Oct 20, 2017

Poles protest government’s court move

Published:Sunday | December 20, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Protesters shout slogans during an anti government demonstration in Warsaw, Poland, yesterday.

WARSAW (AP):

Thousands of people took part in demonstrations across Poland yesterday to protest moves by the new right wing government to neutralise the Constitutional Tribunal as a check on its power, something government opponents are calling a threat to democracy.

A rally in front of the parliament in Warsaw, which drew thousands, was disbanded early due to an anonymous bomb threat, which turned out to be a hoax. There were demonstrations in about 20 other Polish cities and in several cities abroad, including London, Brussels and Tokyo, organisers said.

The protesters, among them former anti-communist dissidents who were active in Solidarity, the Polish resistance movement of the 1980s, said they fear Poland's 26-year-old democracy is threatened again, this time by the government's moves against the court.

The Law and Justice party, which took power last month, controls both houses of parliament and the presidency, leaving the constitutional court as the only effective check on its power.

KEY PROVISION

In past weeks, the government has moved to stack the court with its supporters and now plans legislation which would essentially make the court unable to work. A key provision of the law, scheduled to be passed tomorrow, would require a two-thirds majority by the 15-judge tribunal for any ruling to be valid, something almost impossible to achieve on contentious issues.

The result is that the court would not be able to strike down any new legislation that is challenged.