Poland’s president calls for constitutional referendum

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Series Details 05.05.17
Publication Date 05/05/2017
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Concerns over respect for rule of law and separation of powers by Poland's government started soon after it was elected into office in October 2015.

A reform aimed at replacing judges from the Constitutional Court with others closer to the governing Law and Justice party triggered the alarms both within the country and across the European Union. The Council of Europe also expressed its concern at the move, approved by the Polish parliament where the government is support by a majority. The Constitutional Court later declared the changes as unconstitutional but such ruling was largely ignored by the government.

In January 2016, the European Commission launched an investigation into Poland's judicial reform and engaged in a dialogue with the country's authorities in the framework of a Rule of Law procedure which could lead up to triggering Article 7 of the Treaties.

The Commission published an Opinion on 1 June and was met with criticism by the Polish government. Following up on this document, a Recommendation was published on 27 July, reflecting some changes to the judicial reform proposed by the Polish government to address the issues raised but pointing out these had not been enough.

In December 2016, the Commission discussed the state of play of the procedure concerning the Rule of Law in Poland and decided to issue a complementary Rule of Law Recommendation. In February 2017, the country's foreign minister considered the issue to be a 'closed case', without addressing the indications from the Commission.

During the celebrations of Poland's Constitution Day on 3 May 2017, the country's President Andrzej Duda argued for a national debate on the document before a potential referendum could take in 2018. Mr Duda later suggested the referendum on a constitutional reform to be held in November 2018.

The opposition and some commentators showed their concern on what was seen an authoritarian drift in Poland, given the government's unclear position on separation of powers and rule of law.

Source Link http://p.dw.com/p/2cUC0
Related Links
ESO: Background information: Thousands take to streets to protest Poland’s Law and Justice party http://www.europeansources.info/record/thousands-take-to-streets-to-protest-polands-law-and-justice-party/
Blog: Verfassungsblog, 13.05.17: Why the Announced Constitutional Referendum in Poland is not a Constitutional Referendum after all http://verfassungsblog.de/why-the-announced-constitutional-referendum-in-poland-is-not-a-constitutional-referendum-after-all/
Radio Poland, 03.05.17: Polish president proposes referendum about constitution http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/305273,Polish-president-proposes-referendum-about-constitution
ESO: Background information: Debate with Commission's First Vice-President on rule of law in Poland, March 2017 http://www.europeansources.info/record/debate-with-commissions-first-vice-president-on-rule-of-law-in-poland/
EurActiv, 25.05.17: Polish president wants referendum on constitution in 2018 http://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/polish-president-wants-referendum-on-constitution-in-2018/
Deutsche Welle, 19.05.17: Concern over Poland's Constitution http://p.dw.com/p/2dBbU
Sputnik International, 03.05.17: Century of Independence: Polish President Mulls Constitution Referendum in 2018 https://sptnkne.ws/e4vd
Radio Poland, 25.05.17: Polish president indicates 2018 date for Constitution referendum http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/308523,Polish-president-indicates-2018-date-for-Constitution-referendum
Reuters, 24.05.17: Polish President wants referendum on constitution in November 2018 http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-poland-politics-president-constitutio-idUKKBN18K2XX
Foreign Policy, 03.05.17: On Anniversary of First Constitution, Polish President Calls for Referendum http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/05/03/on-anniversary-of-first-constitution-polish-president-calls-for-referendum/

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