Andrzej Duda unexpectedly vetoed a proposed law that would have allowed him to dismiss Poland’s Supreme Court judges in favor of his handpicked replacements. Tens of thousands of Poles protested the proposal, which was seen as part of the country’s drift back toward authoritarian rule.
Polish President Andrzej Duda on Monday vetoed part of a controversial overhaul of the nation’s judiciary that’s brought tens of thousands of demonstrators into the streets and pitted the nation’s government against its partners in the European Union and the U.S., reports Bloomberg. Going against the ruling party that backed his presidency, Duda struck down bills that would have replaced Supreme Court judges and revamped the Judicial Council that makes key personnel decisions. Protests have been held for eight days amid anger the reforms would curb courts’ independence. The EU threatened sanctions if the reforms take effect.
“Poland’s legal system does need a thorough reorganization, but above all it needs to provide a sense of security,” Duda said in televised comments. “And no change of the legal system should open a divide between society and the state.” He acknowledged that the proposed changes “caused huge emotions.” Since regaining power in October 2015, the ruling Law & Justice party has challenged democratic principles enshrined in the EU treaty and sparked warnings about a drift toward authoritarian rule.