President Andrzej Duda, backtracked on its proposal to amend the constitution in order to secure greater control over judiciary appointments after he failed to gather parliamentary support to do so.
Just hours after his proposal to change the constitution to let the President pick members of the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), effectively giving him power over the judiciary, Duda said that his withdrawing it after not securing the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to amend the constitution.
Opposition parties Civic Platform (PO), Nowoczesna and PSL said that the judiciary reform can be done without the need to change the constitution, with Kukiz’15 in favor of doing it.
“The point is not about me, as the president, to have the power to choose, the point is about the choice being a cross-party one,” Duda said after the meeting. He added that his new proposal would require a three-fifths majority in the Parliament to appoint new members of KRS, and hopes that his proposal would spark a “political discussion based on merit, not emotions.”
According to Duda’s proposal, if MPs cannot agree on the selection, a special voting mechanism will be required in which one MP will be allowed to vote for one KRS nominee.
In July, Duda unexpectedly vetoed the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s reform proposals following nationwide protests and warnings from Poland’s Western allies about politicization of the courts.
KRS has powers to nominate judges, who are later appointed by the president. Its members are currently mostly selected by the judges themselves for four-year terms, the parliament has a right to choose four of them.
Under the vetoed reforms, all current Supreme Court judges would have stepped down immediately unless they had the approval of the justice minister, who is also prosecutor general.