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File-File picture taken Nov.21, 2019 shows Poland's President Andrzej Duda speaking during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius, Lithuania. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis, file)
Andrzej Duda media law Paweł Kukiz TVN US Commentary Poland

Polish President Duda signals veto of media law amendment

The president’s potential veto changes the entire situation surrounding the controversial bill, writes political columnist of “Rzeczpospolita” daily Michał Kolanko

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Michał Kolanko

On Polish Armed Forces Day on Aug. 15, and for the first time, President Andrzej Duda spoke about the hottest topic of the last few weeks, which relates to the Polish television and radio broadcasting bill, also called “lex TVN” – and clearly and unambiguously declared his intention to veto the bill.

“I assure everyone that I will guard constitutional rules, including the rules of freedom of speech, freedom of conducting economic activity, and property rights,” Duda said during his speech.

Duda didn’t stop there. He emphasized that he had no doubts that it was one of the most important responsibilities of the president of Poland to ensure that allied commitments be upheld. He recalled that a few years ago he had vetoed the change to electoral law when it came to European Parliament (EP) elections because that change may have limited EP representation abilities.

Duda also said with reassurance that Poland will continue to uphold agreements when it comes to military, economic, and trade cooperation.

Last week, Discovery’s management board sent a letter concerning “lex TVN” to several of the most important person and institutions in Poland, including the president. In the statement, the company pointed out that “lex TVN” violates the treaty signed between Poland and the US in 1990.

According to “Rzeczpospolita” sources, the president’s signal of a veto is the consequence of last week’s vote over the bill and the fact that the bill may actually land on the president’s desk, as it was not certain that it would even go through parliament in the first place.

The bill passed through parliament thanks to votes from PiS, three Kukiz’15 MPs, and two independent MPs. The opposition and politicians loyal to Jarosław Gowin voted against the bill, and Confederation abstained.

Duda’s veto may seriously complicate PiS’ position. The initial plan entailed that in the middle of September, parliament would reject the expected opposition from the Senate with the help of Kukiz’15 and non-attached MPs. Later, the bill would go to the president.

PiS politicians emphasized that one of the reasons for forcing this bill through was to signal to the party’s electorate that PIS still has its goals and is committed to fulfilling them.

“No matter what happens and what decision the president will make, this goal has been achieved,” a PiS politician stated.

Law and Justice has no chance to form a majority which could reject a presidential veto because that would require the opposition to change its stance on the controversial bill.

The opposition itself has been very careful in reacting to the possible veto. One opposition politician pointed out that the president’s declaration itself is yet another addition to the long list of problems for Jarosław Kaczyński and PiS.