The Constitution as a Bargaining Chip

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Poland’s government is refusing to announce an emergency state, presumably in order to go ahead with the Presidential election on 10 May. Instead, the ruling coalition in Poland has been presenting increasingly controversial proposals aimed at ensuring that the country’s PiS-aligned President will remain in office. The most recent one envisages a constitutional amendment which would extend the president’s term of office. This proposal is nothing but an attempt to blackmail the opposition: either vote for a constitutional change or be blamed for the consequences of holding a presidential election during the pandemic.

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Preparing for the Pandemic Elections

There is no doubt that the essential state institutions should function as effectively as possible in the times of pandemic. It also means finding concrete and fast solutions provided in special statutes, aiming at alleviating social and economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. However, even when proceeding the bill known as Anti-crisis Shield (“Tarcza antykryzysowa”) that provides a financial aid for healthcare system, companies and different kinds of workers in Poland, the governing PiS party managed to introduce unconstitutional amendments to the bill.

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An Election in the Time of Pandemic

In Poland, the Law and Justice (PiS) government has opted not to use its constitutional power to declare a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 spreading. As Wojciech Sadurski explained, its motive is simple: not to postpone the Presidential election in Poland and thus increase the chances of the President-in-Office to win the second term. The question is whether the pandemic may cause invalidity of the election. If the answer is yes, as I suggest, the problem is who should be the judge of it. The chamber of the Polish Supreme Court that is empowered by law to do so does not give an ‘appearance of independence’, following the PiS’s so-called ‘reform’ of the judiciary.

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The Polish Presidential Campaign in the Shadow of the Pandemic

Various types of states of emergency have been, and in all likelihood will be, introduced or at least contemplated in different states of the world to cope with the COVID 19 crisis. Nowhere is this issue more lively than in Poland which is currently in the midst of the presidential election campaign – or rather “a sort of” election campaign of a somewhat bizarre character. It is a one-man campaign, leading up to the election which, by all standards, should not take place in a scheduled time. Except that the incumbent and his party seem not to notice it.

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Supporting Wojciech Sadurski in a Warsaw Courtroom

Last week one of us, together with Gráinne de Burca, again put the spotlight on PiS and allies suing Wojciech Sadurski over some highly critical tweets. It led to a tremendous show of support. This support makes it a statement of the obvious that Sadurski’s trial is a blemish on the EU and every Member States that both so frequently pledge to take the rule of law seriously. And yet. His (first) trial took place yesterday, Wednesday 27 November, at the Warsaw district court. Here is an account of what we both witnessed, live and through live footage respectively.

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Stand with Wojciech Sadurski: his freedom of expression is (y)ours

Just days before the trial against Wojciech Sadurski in Warsaw, we write to seek renewal of your support, and for your help in keeping the PiS strategy of coordinated legal harassment against him, and the threat of a criminal conviction and an award of damages against him as well as hefty legal fees, in the public eye. The party believes that it can ride out the storm, and that by ignoring the protests they will eventually disappear. But they will not.

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Why the EU Commission and the Polish Supreme Court Should not Withdraw their Cases from Luxembourg

The forced retirement of Polish Supreme Court judges has been reversed by the Polish legislator. Should the EU Commission and the Court of Justice now end their infringement procedure against Poland, too? There are several reasons why they should not.

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Constitutional Capture in Poland 2016 and Beyond: What is Next?

2016 will go down in history as fundamental in the institutional history of Polish Constitutionalism. It began with an unprecedented attack on the Constitutional Tribunal, rule of law, checks and balances and judicial independence. It ends with full-blown constitutional crisis. The dramatic events in the Sejm and on the streets only corroborate that Poland is on the slippery slope towards autocracy.

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A Citizens’ Attempt to Solve the Polish Constitutional Crisis

Polish civil society groups have drafted a bill regarding the Act on the Constitutional Tribunal, expecting that the governing party PiS does not intend to legally solve the severe constitutional crisis it has created. We document the speech the representative of these groups, Jaroslaw Marciniak, gave in the Sejm on June 9th 2016.

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