One of the flagship election promises of the United Right and President Andrzej Duda was the deep reform of the Polish judiciary, which since 1989, has basically become a reserve for members of communist Poland.
Judges with long-standing memberships in the Communist Party or even trained by communist special services were the core of the establishment for decades in the Third Polish Republic. They were the ones who set the tone, who gave access to the judicial caste, who shaped judicial customs in post-communist Poland, and they were the most loyal guards of that undemocratic system.
For many voters, today’s ruling camp was a real hope for an end to this pathology and many among them had only one mission for the United Right: put an end to post-communism in the judiciary.
Several very important steps were made towards this goal.
There is a new National Council of the Judiciary, there is the incredibly important Disciplinary Chamber in the Supreme Court. Owing to the ability to choose new judges a new panel of the Constitutional Tribunal has been created which is an actual guarantee of rule of law in our country.
Nevertheless, if we look at these reforms from the point of view of an ordinary citizen, they most likely have no direct impression of these changes or what is worse, they may believe that due to the open engagement of many judges in political struggles, their faith in a fair trial is even weaker.
Of course, the government is not responsible for the political or borderline partisan activity of some members of the judiciary. Yet, it is hard to absolve the government of being unable to deal with this harmful phenomenon.
It seems that state institutions are unable to protect citizens from the consequences of the political war that some judges have declared against the Untied Right.
What’s worse, the cancer which has consumed the Polish judiciary — the chronic incompetence, arrogance and imperiousness — still remains. It may be even more difficult to remove it now, as it has surrounded itself with a narrative about fighting for free courts and operates with the permission of a significant part of the political actors associated with the opposition, allowing the judges to disregard the law to fulfil the opposition’s goals.
The judicial caste has begun to fight the twice democratically elected government majority on the international level, and because of this, it has become a tool in the hands of foreign powers.
Does the United Right and the Ministry of Justice in particular, have a plan how to act in this situation? Time is running out and with it, credibility.