Poland faces a nearly insurmountable legal crisis, says expert

By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

Poland is facing a political and constitutional crisis as a result of the emerging parallel legal systems, according to Piotr Trudnowski, the coordinator of the Institute of Direct Democracy and former president of the Jagiellonian Club think tank.

In an interview with Polish news outlet DoRzeczy.pl, Trudnowski said he fears that Poland is facing a situation in which courts are beginning to issue contradictory rulings on the same matter. This is seen in the case of two conservative PiS MPs (Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik) who were pardoned by the president only to have some courts question the legality of that pardon, while others have upheld it. Now, it is not even clear whether the two men are still MPs or not. 

The expert blames both sides of the political spectrum for the emerging chaos. He feels that the Law and Justice (PiS) party was uncompromising in its approach to judicial reform, but that the liberals have also adopted radical rhetoric in refusing to recognize court verdicts. 

Trudnowski believes that the fact that the present government does not recognize the Constitutional Tribunal has led to a two-track legal system, in which even the speaker of parliament is finding it difficult to decide which court he should listen to when deciding on the validity of the two MPs and their political positions. 

However, the situation is no better in the Supreme Court, in which it has been known for one chamber to question the validity of another. A state of legal anarchy beckons.

Trudnowski fears that PiS in opposition may adopt the same tactic adopted by the previous liberal opposition. PiS will start to question the legitimacy of institutions, such as parliament, pointing to doubts about whether they have been validly constituted, whereas the present liberal government will say it does not recognize judges appointed by the current president.

The expert sees little or no chance of any compromise being worked out.  

The problem, in Trudnowski’s view, is that the Constitutional Tribunal lacks legitimacy to adjudicate definitive outcomes that will be recognized by both sides. The constitutional court was always envisaged as the ultimate court of appeal to resolve any doubts about the constitutionality of laws and actions by governments.

That is no longer the case, and this is why the crisis in Poland’s political and legal system is deepening.

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