Polish President Andrzej Duda has said he would block two bills on reforming Poland’s judiciary. The opposition had condemned the reform as attack on courts’ independence and organized street protests.
In an unexpected move on Monday, Duda refused to endorse two of the three reform bills which critics say would give his Law and Justice Party power to choose judges.
“I have decided that I will send back to Sejm (lower house of parliament), which means I will veto the bill, on the Supreme Court, as well as the one about the National Council of the Judiciary,” Duda said.
One of the bills Duda said he would veto was intended to put the Supreme Court under the political control of the ruling majority, giving the justice minister, who is also prosecutor general, power to appoint judges.
Duda said a prosecutor general should not have such powers.
His decision comes after the proposed judicial overhaul riled the opposition and Poland’s foreign partners. Thousands of people protested against the reform on the streets of Warsaw and other Polish cities last week.
Duda’s decision also marks his first open break with Law and Justice party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, believed to be the most powerful politician in the ex-communist country. While Kaczynski has no high-ranking position in the government, he has a reputation of an undisputed ruler in the conservative ruling faction.