Poland. In January, new Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki replaced almost half of the government’s ministers. It was seen as an attempt to appease the EU leadership, which, before the New Year, initiated a process of threat of sanctions against Poland because of the government’s attempt to take control of the judiciary.
In February, criticism increased since Parliament made it punishable to accuse Poland of participating in Nazi genocide against Jews. With the threat of imprisonment, it was also forbidden to designate the Nazi death camps in Poland as Polish. The criticism was particularly harsh from Israel, but President Andrzej Duda signed the law.
According to Countryaah.com, Warsaw is the capital city of Poland, a country located in Eastern Europe. The criticism gradually became too difficult for the government, which decided to mitigate the law. Talking about Polish death camps or Poland being involved in the Holocaust would no longer provide a prison sentence.
In April, Parliament amended some of the criticized judicial reforms, but according to the Supreme Court it was insufficient. In July, the new laws came into force with, among other things, the forced retirement of the Supreme Court judge at the age of 65. According to the ruling party Law and Justice, the mentality of the Communist era must be removed and the fight against corruption become more effective, but according to the opposition, the government wanted to take control of the judiciary through the appointment of politically loyal judges. Parliament, in turn, gained control of the National Legal Council to appoint judges and other high lawyers.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Małgorzata Gersdorf and a number of judges refused to obey the new law, which they said was a purge against the Constitution. Gersdorf went to his workplace where thousands of followers demonstrated with demands for an independent judiciary.
The European Commission launched a new legal process against Poland, declaring that the government violated EU rules and undermined the principle of judicial independence. But in September, the president appointed a new acting chief of the Supreme Court, despite Gersdorf refusing to leave his post. The EU countries’ judicial bodies, the ENCJ, decided to expel Poland, as it was considered that the country no longer fulfilled the basic requirement of independent courts.
The president also appointed judges to a newly established chamber of the Supreme Court for disciplinary cases. It would, among other things, evaluate judges’ involvement in politics. Judicial proceedings were initiated against three judges who protested against the government’s judicial reform.
In September, the European Commission decided to address the issue of forced retirement of the Polish judges to the European Court of Justice. According to the Commission, it violated EU law by attacking the independence of the courts.
In October, President Duda appointed 27 new judges to the Supreme Court. Just over a week later, a temporary ruling came from the European Court of Justice, where the Polish government was ordered to immediately cancel the decision on forced retirement of judges. The European Court of Justice also banned newly appointed judges from taking office. Final judgment would be announced later.
In November, the ruling party reversed Law and Justice and Parliament decided that forced-retired judges should return to work. The European Commission said the decision was a step in the right direction.
In the October general elections, the Conservative and Nationalist ruling party Law and Justice progressed in the country, while the liberal opposition won in the big cities. The political divide between the city and the countryside in Poland appeared clearer than before.
At the 100th anniversary of Poland’s independence in November, a couple of hundred thousand people marched through Warsaw in a nationalist manifesto, which included, among other things, the extreme right and fascist flags appeared.
In November, media reported that the CFO had requested bribes from the owner of two banks in exchange for gentle treatment. He dismissed the charges as false but resigned from his post. Bank shares fell on the stock exchange. In Parliament, the largest opposition party called on the Citizens’ Platform to vote in confidence against the government and accused it of trying to sweep the scandal under the carpet. However, Prime Minister Morawiecki won the vote in December.
Elections in Poland
The party system in Poland was severely fragmented in the first period after democratization. In 1991, a five percent threshold was set for the representation of political parties in Sejm, except for ethnic parties. The barrier to electoral alliances was set at eight percent. This restriction does not apply to parties representing a national minority. Thus, the barrier does not apply to the German minority party.
Since 1989, a number of new parties have been formed, forming various alliances. After all the Sejm elections in the period 1991–2007, there was a change of government, but at the elections in 2007 and 2011, the Citizens’ Platform and the Polish People’s Party / Peasant Party gained a majority in Sejm.
With the exception of the extraordinary election in 2007, the turnout in all parliamentary elections since 1991 has been less than 50 percent. At the October 9, 2011 election, turnout was 48.6 percent.
Parliamentary elections 2005
The 2005 parliamentary election became a victory for the right-wing Party of Law and Justice (PiS). This party got 27 percent of the vote, the Liberal Citizen Platform (PO) 24.1 percent, while the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) became the major loser and dropped from just over 41 percent of the vote to 11.3 percent Negotiations for a coalition government between PiS and the PO did not argue, partly because of disagreement over which party should hold the presidential post in Sejm.
The result was that PiS formed government together with two less populist parties: the Federation of Polish Families (LPR) and the Self-Defense Party (SRP – Samoobrona).
The Prime Minister’s candidate for PiS, Jaroslaw Aleksander Kaczyński, withdrew ahead of the coalition negotiations. The reason was that his twin brother Lech Kaczyński was elected Poland’s new president in October. Instead, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz became new prime minister in November 2005.
Parliamentary elections 2007
Following the corruption charges against the leader of the Self-Defense Party (SRP – Samoobrona), who participated in the Marcinkiewwicz government, Sejm was dissolved in September 2007 and new elections were held in October of the same year. At the election, the Citizen Platform (PO) received 41.5 percent of the votes and 208 representatives. Together with the Polish People’s Party (PSL), which got 8.9 percent of the vote and 31 representatives, the PO formed a majority government with Donald Tusk as prime minister. Attendance at the election was 53.8 percent.
Parliamentary elections 2011
At the October 2011 parliamentary elections, the Citizens Platform and the Polish People’s Party retained the majority in Sejm and formed a new coalition government. With this, Donald Tusk became the first Polish prime minister to be re-elected after serving a full term. After Donald Tusk was appointed President of the European Council, Ewa Kopasz took over as Prime Minister in September 2014.