A week after being sworn in, the new government in Poland began to limit the influence of Kaczynski’s supporters. It is facing great resistance.
The Warsaw Uprising Square has been cordoned off with high bars due to construction work. There are a noticeable number of black plainclothes police cars and blue police buses with barred windows in the side streets. Only a plastic tape blocks access to the editorial office of the state television station TVP. It has been the focus of political reporting for the past eight years. Since the beginning of this week, he has been at the center of a heated dispute between the new liberal government and the conservative opposition.
Despite the change in government, the editorial team still only broadcasts the views of Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Law and Justice Party. In rural areas, TVP is usually the only channel available, and the multiplex private channels TVN and Polsat can rarely be received there. But on Wednesday afternoon, the broadcast signal of news channel TVP Info was suddenly cut off.
Kaczynski talks about a “small coup”
The move was preceded by the controversial dismissal of the previous TVP board by new Culture Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz. This belongs to Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform party, the largest party in the government coalition, which has only been in office for a week. President Andrzej Duda (formerly PiS) criticized the measure on Thursday, calling it a “clear violation of the Constitution.” Because the Minister of Culture of the Tusk government immediately appointed a new board of directors and replaced the popular daily program “Wiadomosci” at 7:30 p.m. with a terse announcement that state television was now pluralistic again.
Meanwhile, PiS supporters demonstrated for media freedom in front of the TVP’s main building on Woronicza Street until late in the evening. As of Tuesday evening, more than a dozen PiS members of parliament had barricaded themselves in the Tahrir Building, including party leader Kaczynski. “The constitution has been undermined, we have a mini-coup,” the former Polish strongman said.
PiS argues that the Constitution has been violated because the new TVP Administrative Council was created based on a simple parliamentary decision and not a new TVP law. Tusk’s center-left coalition decided not to amend the law because President Duda would likely block it immediately with a veto. Duda considers himself a loyal manager of PiS’s eight-year rule, and he already announced this on election night on October 15.
Law and Justice Party’s justice reform must be dismantled
Kaczynski had already summoned the Constitutional Court, dominated by PiS loyalists, and issued a temporary injunction banning changes to the TVP until mid-January. But government departments say that neither the Constitutional Court nor its rulings are legitimate.
This shows the legal chaos involved in PiS’s judicial reform. And this may be just the beginning. The fighting between Tusk’s government and Kaczynski’s opposition is likely to escalate after Christmas at the latest. Late on Wednesday evening, the new House of Representatives majority decided in a simple decision – and again not with a change in the law that Duda had threatened to veto – that the PiS judicial reform would be scrapped. The Liberal Left coalition justified its initiative by saying that the restructuring process that took place during the past eight years was unconstitutional.
Justice Minister Adam Bodnar said during a meeting with human rights activists that the decision was urgent because Poland expects a flood of cases before the European Court of Justice and the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. It is estimated that the number of people illegally detained has doubled since 2015. As a result, the country is threatened with severe penalties.
Minister Kaczynski should go to prison
The battle over the credibility of case law began long ago. In the middle of the week, the Court of Appeal had already sentenced former PiS Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski to two years in prison on charges of abuse of office and falsification of documents. Kaminsky and one of his campaign colleagues are said to have lost their parliamentary mandate because of this.
However, Duda pardoned them in 2015 before convicting them. Now, as with the appointment of the new deputy prime minister, the president speaks of a “clear violation of the constitution.” Many observers in Warsaw wonder who could discover something like this. The Constitutional Court itself has completely lost its credibility due to dozens of biased rulings in favor of PiS.
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