Von Karlsruher Erbhöfen, parlamen­tarischer Fragmen­tierung und der Gefahr schwindenden Institutionen­vertrauens

Dass das Wahlverfahren zum Bundesverfassungsgericht wegen seiner Intransparenz, seiner vermeintlichen Verfassungswidrigkeit oder seiner faktischen Monopolisierung durch CDU/CSU und SPD von Zeit zu Zeit Kritik hervorruft, daran hat man sich längst gewöhnt. Dass das Gericht selbst und Teile der Öffentlichkeit nun aber offen vor seiner Politisierung warnen, ist in dieser Form neu, erklärungsbedürftig – und richtig.

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Failing to Struggle or Struggling to Fail? On the New Judiciary Legislation Changes in Romania

Like never before in the last 28 years in Romania, huge protests have started against the ‘assault against the judicial independence’. Awareness has been raised as regards the importance of a truly independent judiciary and the disastrous effects of political corruption on the very existence of a liberal democracy.

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Drama or Serenity? Upcoming Judicial Appointments at the Slovak Constitutional Court

2018 is shaping up to be one of the most important years in the history of the Slovak Constitutional Court (SCC). Nine of the currently sitting 13 judges will see their non-renewable terms expire in February 2019. The new appointments have the potential to be shrouded in drama, as they will take place against the background of a constitutional and political power struggle over SCC appointments between the President and the government, as well as broader judicial malaise in the country.

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The Commission takes a step back in the fight for the Rule of Law

The European Commission has filed a complaint against Poland with the Court of Justice of the European Union based on Article 258 TFEU, in connection with the Polish Act on the Common Courts System. Fines may be charged on Poland as a result of the case, but the Commission has probably quietly withdrawn some of its charges, apparently opting for the somewhat modified “Hungarian scenario”. The impact of this new approach on the reversibility of the changes introduced to the Polish judiciary will be very limited.

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The European Commission’s Activation of Article 7: Better Late than Never?

On Wednesday, the European Commission reacted to the continuing deterioration of the rule of law situation in Poland. The remaining question, of course, is why this argument has been used in the context of 7(1) as opposed of 7(2) given that the situation on the ground in Poland is clearly – in the view of the Commission, the Venice Commission and countless other actors – one of clear and persistent breach of values, as opposed to a threat thereof. The explanation might lie beyond the simple difficulty of the procedural requirements related to the sanctioning stage.

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Judicial “Reform” in Poland: The President’s Bills are as Unconstitutional as the Ones he Vetoed

Five months ago, the Polish President Duda vetoed the PiS laws on the judiciary as unconstitutional. Currently, the President and the PiS are negotiating about a solution to this conflict. But make no mistake: The Presidential vetoes have not triggered any new proposals which would be qualitatively better in terms of consistency with the Constitution than the initial PiS bills that he vetoed. Both the PiS and the President’s proposals are glaringly unconstitutional, though in different ways.

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A Stress Test for Europe’s Judiciaries

The rule of law, judicial independence and separation of powers are values guaranteed in constitutions of member states of the Council of Europe. Nevertheless, in recent years, a number of challenges to these accepted values have emerged in different countries all over Europe. Events in countries like Hungary, Ukraine, Slovakia and Turkey should be mentioned in this context. Poland’s reforms of its judiciary (some of them still in draft stage) are the latest and gravest example of this European crisis. While such threats to judicial independence in individual states are a fundamental problem for European co-operation based on shared values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, European states should not wait for remedies to be found on the European level. Rather, European states should learn from the challenges in Poland and other countries to critically review the constitutional and legal framework of their own national judiciaries. To facilitate this process, we suggest to stress test Europe’s judiciaries.

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Is Poland’s President Duda on the Road to Damascus?

Does President Duda’s recent vetoes signal a more permanent change in his fidelities to his political stable and to the Constitution? An opportunity to witness the depth of his conversion arises soon. The untimely death of Professor Morawski, one of the anti-judges appointed to the Constitutional Tribunal (CT) by Duda in December 2015, has created a vacancy in the CT which must be filled soon. The big question is with whom.

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Who’s next? On the Future of the Rule of Law in Poland, and why President Duda will not save it

With the latest draft laws about the judiciary, the Law and Justice party (PiS) has crossed yet another line. President Duda’s announcement of a veto appears on first sight to present an obstacle to PiS’ march towards completely unrestricted, unitary state power. In this post, I will examine first what effects the PiS drafts will have on the independence of the judiciary by the hands of PiS and then, whether or not President Duda’s so-called veto holds what it seems to promise.

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