Poland

   

Quality of Democracy

#37
Key Findings
Showing serious setbacks during the review period, Poland has fallen into the bottom ranks (rank 37) with regard to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 3.1 points relative to 2014.

Using new media laws, the PiS government has gained broad control over the public media. Many viewers have boycotted the public stations. A new bill seeking to limit foreign media-ownership shares is aimed at undermining independent private media. Access to government information has become more restrictive.

The government’s efforts to control the judiciary, along with the imposition of new anti-terror legislation, have raised civil rights concerns. Political liberties are being undermined by restrictions on public assemblies and harsher treatment of demonstrators by police. The government speaks out strongly against Muslims, the LGBT community, and “gender ideology.”

Legal certainty has strongly declined, with many new initiatives needing revision. The government has strongly limited judicial independence. PiS forces have accused the preceding government of corruption, but have themselves come under fire for corruption and cronyism in state-owned enterprises.

Electoral Processes

#19

How fair are procedures for registering candidates and parties?

10
 9

Legal regulations provide for a fair registration procedure for all elections; candidates and parties are not discriminated against.
 8
 7
 6


A few restrictions on election procedures discriminate against a small number of candidates and parties.
 5
 4
 3


Some unreasonable restrictions on election procedures exist that discriminate against many candidates and parties.
 2
 1

Discriminating registration procedures for elections are widespread and prevent a large number of potential candidates or parties from participating.
Candidacy Procedures
10
Regulations governing the electoral process were consolidated within the election code in January 2011. Provisions regarding the registration of parties and candidates are liberal and ensure a fair registration procedure. Every Polish citizen has the right to stand for election. Senators need to be at least 30 years old, while presidential candidates must be at least 35. Candidates for the Sejm (the lower house of the Polish parliament) can be proposed by organizations such as parties or by voters themselves. A group of 1,000 individual citizens or more can form a so-called electoral committee by signing the proper documentation and submitting it to the National Electoral Commission. Parties representing ethnic minorities receive favorable treatment, as they are allowed to collect fewer signatures than required of “normal” parties in order to take part in elections. The election code also introduced a gender quota, mandating that men and women each must account for at least 35% of Sejm candidate lists. There were no signs of discrimination against specific candidates and parties in any of the last elections held – the presidential elections in May 2015 and the parliamentary elections in October 2015. Under the PiS government, electoral law was not an issue until the end of 2018 when the PiS pushed for changes in the rules for the local elections, and for the selection of the National Election Commission (Państwowa Komisja Wyborzca, PKW) and its executive body, the National Election Office (Krajowe Biuro Wyborcze, KBW).

Citations:
Markowski, R. (2016): The Polish Parliamentary Election of 2015: A Free and Fair Election That Results in Unfair Consequences, in: West European Politics 39(6), 1311-1322.

OSCE/ODIHR (2016): Election Assessment Mission Final Report Poland: Parliamentary Elections 25 October 2015, Warsaw, 8-9 (http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/poland/217961?download=true).

Marcinkiewicz, K., M. Stegmaier (2018): Democratic Elections in Poland Face a New Threat, in: Washington Post, January 11, 2017 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/01/11/free-elections-in-poland-face-new-threats-from-a-new-electoral-reform-bill/?utm_term=.6589640ce394).

N.N. (2018): Poland’s Ruling Plans Legal Changes Ahead of 2018 Local Elections, in: Reuters, November 10 (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-poland-politics-election/polands-ruling-party-plans-legal-changes-ahead-of-2018-local-elections-idUSKBN1DA2EX?il=0).

To what extent do candidates and parties have fair access to the media and other means of communication?

10
 9

All candidates and parties have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. All major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of the range of different political positions.
 8
 7
 6


Candidates and parties have largely equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. The major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of different political positions.
 5
 4
 3


Candidates and parties often do not have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. While the major media outlets represent a partisan political bias, the media system as a whole provides fair coverage of different political positions.
 2
 1

Candidates and parties lack equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communications. The major media outlets are biased in favor of certain political groups or views and discriminate against others.
Media Access
4
Legally, parties and candidates have equal access to public and private media. At least for nationwide candidate lists, the election code requires public TV and radio stations to reserve time for the free broadcasting of campaign materials and for televised candidate debates. In the 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections, the pluralistic nature and quality of the private media in Poland had allowed all parties and candidates the opportunity to reach the public with their messages, although public broadcasters were hesitant to give equal broadcast time to “second-order” candidates in the campaign for the first round of the 2015 presidential elections. The PiS government’s attempts to control the public and private media have increased the partisan bias in media reporting and have made media access for different parties uneven.

To what extent do all citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right of participation in national elections?

10
 9

All adult citizens can participate in national elections. All eligible voters are registered if they wish to be. There are no discriminations observable in the exercise of the right to vote. There are no disincentives to voting.
 8
 7
 6


The procedures for the registration of voters and voting are for the most part effective, impartial and nondiscriminatory. Citizens can appeal to courts if they feel being discriminated. Disincentives to voting generally do not constitute genuine obstacles.
 5
 4
 3


While the procedures for the registration of voters and voting are de jure non-discriminatory, isolated cases of discrimination occur in practice. For some citizens, disincentives to voting constitute significant obstacles.
 2
 1

The procedures for the registration of voters or voting have systemic discriminatory effects. De facto, a substantial number of adult citizens are excluded from national elections.
Voting and Registration Rights
10
The 2011 election code made voting rights more transparent by consolidating provisions for different election levels into a single law. Almost all adult citizens in Poland have the right to vote. While there is no blanket disenfranchisement of convicts or individuals who have been declared incapacitated, existing provisions are not fully in line with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. As Polish citizens are automatically registered to vote, there is no need for prior registration before elections. Since August 2014, all citizens, not only the disabled and those living abroad, have been able to vote by mail. In the November 2014 local elections, an information-technology failure led to delays in the reporting of the election results. While an expert commission did not find any evidence of voting-fraud, a series of technical problems might have contributed to moderate bias in the electoral outcome. The 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections went more smoothly.

Citations:
OSCE/ODIHR (2016): Election Assessment Mission Final Report Poland: Parliamentary Elections 25 October 2015, Warsaw, 6-8 (http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/poland/217961?download=true).

To what extent is private and public party financing and electoral campaign financing transparent, effectively monitored and in case of infringement of rules subject to proportionate and dissuasive sanction?

10
 9

The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring to that respect. Effective measures to prevent evasion are effectively in place and infringements subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
 8
 7
 6


The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring. Although infringements are subject to proportionate sanctions, some, although few, loopholes and options for circumvention still exist.
 5
 4
 3


The state provides that donations to political parties shall be published. Party financing is subject to some degree of independent monitoring but monitoring either proves regularly ineffective or proportionate sanctions in case of infringement do not follow.
 2
 1

The rules for party and campaign financing do not effectively enforce the obligation to make the donations public. Party and campaign financing is neither monitored independently nor, in case of infringements, subject to proportionate sanctions.
Party Financing
7
Party and campaign financing regulation is clear and effective. While party financing is regulated by the 2001 Political Parties Act, the rules governing campaign financing are part of the 2011 election code. Parties depend heavily on public funding, which is provided only to parties that win at least 3% of the vote. Party spending is monitored by the National Election Office (KBW), the executive body of the National Election Commission (PKW). Monitoring is strict, but focuses exclusively on spending financed by public funds. According to the election code, only registered electoral committees can finance campaigns, and there is a maximum spending limit for campaign purposes of approximately €7 million. In practice, separating party and campaign financing has sometimes turned out to be challenging. Other problems include the insufficient coverage of pre-campaign spending, the short window of time in which objections can be raised by the National Election Commission, and the lack of detail transparency in commission reports of electoral committee revenues and finances. A 2014 amendment to the Political Parties Act limited parties’ risk of losing money as a result of minor accounting mistakes. However, the fact that an election committee’s financial and criminal liability rests with its financial officer makes it difficult to find individuals willing to be nominated to the position. A referendum in September 2015 put the reform of party financing on the public agenda. While the referendum ultimately failed because of a low participation rate of 7.8%, more than 80% of those participating voted to abolish the existing system. Debates about party and campaign financing rules have also been prompted by decisions of the National Election Commission to sanction two opposition parties for procedural errors and inaccurate bookkeeping. In the period under review, however, the rules for the financing of parties and campaigns were left unchanged.

Citations:
Markowski, R., M. Kotnarowski, M. Wenzel, M. Żerkowska-Balas (2015): Democratic Audit of Poland 2014. Frankfurt/M.: Peter Lang, 144-148.
OSCE/ODIHR (2016): Election Assessment Mission Final Report Poland: Parliamentary Elections 25 October 2015, Warsaw, 10-12 (http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/poland/217961?download=true).
Sawicki, A. (2015). Finansowanie partii politycznych i kampanii wyborczych w Polsce. Warszawa: Instytut Spraw Publicznych.
Wittman, F., T. Zapart (2015): Ein gescheitertes Referendum ohne Gewinner? Wahlrecht und Parteienfinanzierung im polnischen Parteiensystem auf dem direktdemokratischen Prüfstand. Polen-Analysen Nr. 168, Bremen (http://www.laender-analysen.de/polen/pdf/PolenAnalysen168.pdf).

Do citizens have the opportunity to take binding political decisions when they want to do so?

10
 9

Citizens have the effective opportunity to actively propose and take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through popular initiatives and referendums. The set of eligible issues is extensive, and includes national, regional, and local issues.
 8
 7
 6


Citizens have the effective opportunity to take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through either popular initiatives or referendums. The set of eligible issues covers at least two levels of government.
 5
 4
 3


Citizens have the effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure. The set of eligible issues is limited to one level of government.
 2
 1

Citizens have no effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure.
Popular Decision-Making
6
Polish law provides for various forms of direct democracy. On the local and regional level, a referendum is called when it is supported by 10% of the electorate. On the national level, referendums can be called only by the lower house of parliament (the Sejm), or the president. The Sejm must decide on whether to call a referendum when a referendum petition is backed by 500,000 voters. Moreover, a total of 100,000 voters can collectively submit a draft bill (“popular initiative”), which the Sejm then has to pass or reject. Under the PiS government, various groups have used popular initiatives to submit draft bills to the Sejm. Since the 2015 elections, however, no national referendums have been held. Citing formal reasons, the PiS majority in the Sejm rejected a referendum on the government’s controversial education reform for which the teachers’ union had collected more than 900,000 signatures. The PiS thus demonstrated that it is not interested in what citizens want. At the same time, President Duda proposed a referendum on the constitution in 2018. Since he has not specified the questions to be asked and since this referendum would only be consultative, Duda’s proposal has been widely seen as a populist attempt to strengthen his position.

Access to Information

#37

To what extent are the media independent from government?

10
 9

Public and private media are independent from government influence; their independence is institutionally protected and fully respected by the incumbent government.
 8
 7
 6


The incumbent government largely respects the independence of media. However, there are occasional attempts to exert influence.
 5
 4
 3


The incumbent government seeks to ensure its political objectives indirectly by influencing the personnel policies, organizational framework or financial resources of public media, and/or the licensing regime/ market access for private media.
 2
 1

Major media outlets are frequently influenced by the incumbent government promoting its partisan political objectives. To ensure pro-government media reporting, governmental actors exert direct political pressure and violate existing rules of media regulation or change them to benefit their interests.
Media Freedom
3
The Polish government no longer respects the independence of the media. The Council of National Media was established in June 2016, and appoints the management boards of public TV and radio, and the Polish Press Agency (PAP). The council is dominated by the PiS and takes instructions directly from Jarosław Kaczyński. The National Broadcasting Board (KRRiT), a constitutional body overseeing electronic media, has been staffed exclusively with PiS personnel. Cases of politically motivated appointments and dismissals at TVP, Poland’s public TV broadcaster and the public Polskie Radio are numerous. According to estimates, at least 225 journalists either lost their jobs or stepped down from their positions for political reasons in 2016. In response to the takeover of the public media by the PiS government, up to a million previous viewers have declined to watch the main news program of TVP (now often dubbed TV-PiS). The other two major TV channels, TVN and POLSAT, as well as part of the print media, have sought to counter the biased message of the (once) public TV. This may become more difficult in the future as the government plans to reduce the share of foreign companies or institutions to 15-20%, a regulation that would especially affect TVN. In fall 2017, the National Broadcasting Board imposed a fine on TVN because of allegedly unfair and partisan coverage of the protest that took place in the Polish parliament in December 2016. The fine amounted to PLN 1.5 million, but was ultimately dropped when the U.S. government protested strongly. In December 2016, the governing PiS party attempted to limit reporters’ access to lawmakers inside the parliament, but ultimately gave up the idea due to resistance from the opposition and public.

Citations:
Chapman, A. (2017): Pluralism Under Attack: The Assault on Press Freedom in Poland. Washington, D.C.: Freedom House (https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FH_Poland_Report_Final_2017.pdf)

To what extent are the media characterized by an ownership structure that ensures a pluralism of opinions?

10
 9

Diversified ownership structures characterize both the electronic and print media market, providing a well-balanced pluralism of opinions. Effective anti-monopoly policies and impartial, open public media guarantee a pluralism of opinions.
 8
 7
 6


Diversified ownership structures prevail in the electronic and print media market. Public media compensate for deficiencies or biases in private media reporting by representing a wider range of opinions.
 5
 4
 3


Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize either the electronic or the print media market. Important opinions are represented but there are no or only weak institutional guarantees against the predominance of certain opinions.
 2
 1

Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize both the electronic and the print media market. Few companies dominate the media, most programs are biased, and there is evidence that certain opinions are not published or are marginalized.
Media Pluralism
5
Poland’s media market is one of the largest in Europe, offering a diverse mix of public and private media organizations and reflecting a broad spectrum of political opinions. While the public TV station TVP and its four channels claim a large share of the market, and local authorities often publish newspapers and magazines, most Polish print media and radio in general are privately owned. Despite a tendency toward concentration, media ownership remains diversified. Foreign owners still control more than half of the Polish media market. Compared to other countries in East-Central Europe, Poland’s media-ownership structures are relatively transparent, and there are no “media moguls” in the market who use their ownership positions to further a political agenda. Since the 2015 elections, however, media pluralism has substantially declined. For one thing, the public media have become highly partisan. For another, the PiS government has sought to limit the market shares of independent media. It has forced state-owned enterprises to refrain from placing advertisements in newspapers considered leftist or liberal. Gazeta Wyborcza, the main daily, for instance reported a 21% loss in ad sales in 2016 due to this ban. Likewise, public gas stations and other enterprises have been urged not to sell particular newspapers. In addition, the new bill on measures to limit foreign media ownership will decrease media pluralism.

To what extent can citizens obtain official information?

10
 9

Legal regulations guarantee free and easy access to official information, contain few, reasonable restrictions, and there are effective mechanisms of appeal and oversight enabling citizens to access information.
 8
 7
 6


Access to official information is regulated by law. Most restrictions are justified, but access is sometimes complicated by bureaucratic procedures. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms permit citizens to enforce their right of access.
 5
 4
 3


Access to official information is partially regulated by law, but complicated by bureaucratic procedures and some poorly justified restrictions. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms are often ineffective.
 2
 1

Access to official information is not regulated by law; there are many restrictions of access, bureaucratic procedures and no or ineffective mechanisms of enforcement.
Access to Government Information
6
Access to public information is guaranteed in Article 61.1 of the constitution of the Republic of Poland, and the Law on Access to Public Information provides for far-reaching access to official information. The law defines public information as information on public matters and covers trade unions and political parties as well as the government. In response to an EU directive, a September 2011 amendment facilitated the reuse of government information by citizens and called on public institutions to provide resources enabling citizens to access information. While the PiS government has left the legal framework more or less untouched, it has been more restrictive than its predecessor in granting public access to information and has sometimes openly misinformed the public.

Civil Rights and Political Liberties

#37

To what extent does the state respect and protect civil rights and how effectively are citizens protected by courts against infringements of their rights?

10
 9

All state institutions respect and effectively protect civil rights. Citizens are effectively protected by courts against infringements of their rights. Infringements present an extreme exception.
 8
 7
 6


The state respects and protects rights, with few infringements. Courts provide protection.
 5
 4
 3


Despite formal protection, frequent infringements of civil rights occur and court protection often proves ineffective.
 2
 1

State institutions respect civil rights only formally, and civil rights are frequently violated. Court protection is not effective.
Civil Rights
5
The PiS government’s attempts to take control of the judiciary have raised some doubts about the government’s respect for civil rights, as has the anti-terrorism legislation introduced after the terrorist attacks in Brussels in March 2016. It has extended options for telephone and internet surveillance without a court’s order, has increased the period that suspects can be held without charges and has widened the Internal Security Agency’s (ABW) access to data.

Citations:
Human Rights Watch (2017): Eroding Checks and Balances: Rule of Law and Human Rights Under Attack in Poland. New York (https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/poland1017_web.pdf).

To what extent does the state concede and protect political liberties?

10
 9

All state institutions concede and effectively protect political liberties.
 8
 7
 6


All state institutions for the most part concede and protect political liberties. There are only few infringements.
 5
 4
 3


State institutions concede political liberties but infringements occur regularly in practice.
 2
 1

Political liberties are unsatisfactory codified and frequently violated.
Political Liberties
6
Under the PiS government, violations of political liberties have increased. First, the Law on Public Assembly has been made more restrictive by privileging state-organized and regular public events over one-off demonstrations organized by social actors. According to the new rules passed by the Sejm in December 2016, assemblies of citizens cannot be held at the same time and place as gatherings organized by the public authorities or churches. This means that counter-demonstrations to periodic assemblies, typically devoted to patriotic, religious and historic events, are forbidden, which prioritizes governmental or government-supported assemblies. A second reason for concern is that the treatment of demonstrators by the police has worsened, as evidenced by an increasing number of interrogations and arrests, and growing police violence. Finally, political liberties are likely to suffer from changes in the financing of NGOs, signed by President Duda in October 2017. These changes will make access to public funding more difficult for independent NGOs.

Citations:
Amnesty International (2017): Poland: On the Streets to defend Human Rights. Harassment, Surveillance and Prosecution of Protesters. London (https://www.amnesty.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Final-prosecution-of-protesters-10.10-1.pdf).

Sadurski, W. (2018): How Democracy Dies (in Poland): A Case Study of Anti-Constitutional Populist Backsliding. Sydney Law School, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18/01, Sydney (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3103491.##).

How effectively does the state protect against different forms of discrimination?

10
 9

State institutions effectively protect against and actively prevent discrimination. Cases of discrimination are extremely rare.
 8
 7
 6


State anti-discrimination protections are moderately successful. Few cases of discrimination are observed.
 5
 4
 3


State anti-discrimination efforts show limited success. Many cases of discrimination can be observed.
 2
 1

The state does not offer effective protection against discrimination. Discrimination is widespread in the public sector and in society.
Non-discrimination
5
A comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Act in line with EU directives has been in effect only since the beginning of 2011. The implementation of the Act on Equal Treatment largely rests with the Commissioner for Citizens’ Rights (Rzecznik Praw Obywatelskich), which was originally established in 1987. This body’s effectiveness has suffered as it has assumed more responsibilities, as the expansion has not included a corresponding increase in resources. Anti-discrimination policy has not featured prominently on the agenda of the PiS government. Quite to the contrary, the PiS government has launched a strong discourse against Muslims and has spoken out against the LGBT community and “gender-ideology.” The new legislation on the financing of NGOs will make it more difficult for NGOs that campaign against discrimination to access public money. In a number of cases, NGOs that focus on women’s rights, domestic violence or asylum-seeker and refugee issues have already been denied funds.

Rule of Law

#39

To what extent do government and administration act on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions to provide legal certainty?

10
 9

Government and administration act predictably, on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions. Legal regulations are consistent and transparent, ensuring legal certainty.
 8
 7
 6


Government and administration rarely make unpredictable decisions. Legal regulations are consistent, but leave a large scope of discretion to the government or administration.
 5
 4
 3


Government and administration sometimes make unpredictable decisions that go beyond given legal bases or do not conform to existing legal regulations. Some legal regulations are inconsistent and contradictory.
 2
 1

Government and administration often make unpredictable decisions that lack a legal basis or ignore existing legal regulations. Legal regulations are inconsistent, full of loopholes and contradict each other.
Legal Certainty
4
Under the PiS government, legal certainty has strongly declined. Some of the government’s many legal initiatives have been so half-baked that they had to be amended or suspended. On several occasions, high-ranking PiS politicians have shown their disrespect for the law. The protracted conflicts between the government and important parts of the judiciary have meant that justices and citizens have had to deal with opposing interpretations of the legal status quo.

Citations:
Szuleka, M., M. Wolny, M. Szwed (2016): The Constsitutional Crisis in Poland 2015-2016. Warsaw: Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

To what extent do independent courts control whether government and administration act in conformity with the law?

10
 9

Independent courts effectively review executive action and ensure that the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 8
 7
 6


Independent courts usually manage to control whether the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 5
 4
 3


Courts are independent, but often fail to ensure legal compliance.
 2
 1

Courts are biased for or against the incumbent government and lack effective control.
Judicial Review
4
Polish courts are relatively well-financed and adequately staffed, but have increasingly come under government influence. In 2017, the takeover of the Constitutional Tribunal in the PiS government’s first year in office was followed by a series of reforms that aimed at limiting the independence of the courts. These reforms sparked massive international protests and were only slightly watered down after President Duda vetoed two out of four laws. The laws have given the minister of justice far-reaching powers to appoint and dismiss court presidents and justices, and have given the Sejm the right to select the 15 members of the National Council of the Judiciary by a simple majority. In addition, the composition of both the National Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court will soon change. Incumbent members of the National Council will lose their positions in March 2018, while the terms of the Supreme Court justices have been reduced indirectly by lowering the retirement age from 70 to 65 years. These legal changes, some of which are clearly unconstitutional, were accompanied by the dismissal of dozens of justices and a media campaign against the judiciary financed by public companies.

Citations:
Koncewicz, T. T. (2017): Farewell to the Separation of Powers – On the Judicial Purge and the Capture in the Heart of Europe, Verfassungsblog, July 19, 2017 (http://verfassungsblog.de/farewell-to-the-separation-of-powerson-the-judicial-purge-and-the-capture-in-the-heart-of-europe):

Machińska, H., R. Vetter (2017): Die PiS und der demokratische Rechtsstaat. Polen-Analysen Nr. 204, Bremen (http://www.laender-analysen.de/polen/pdf/PolenAnalysen204.pdf).

To what extent does the process of appointing (supreme or constitutional court) justices guarantee the independence of the judiciary?

10
 9

Justices are appointed in a cooperative appointment process with special majority requirements.
 8
 7
 6


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies with special majority requirements or in a cooperative selection process without special majority requirements.
 5
 4
 3


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies without special majority requirements.
 2
 1

All judges are appointed exclusively by a single body irrespective of other institutions.
Appointment of Justices
2
The 15 justices of the Constitutional Tribunal are elected individually by the Sejm for terms of nine years, on the basis of an absolute majority of votes with at least one-half of all members present. The president of the republic selects the president and the vice-president of the Constitutional Tribunal from among the 15 justices, on the basis of proposals made by the justices themselves. A law in June 2015 tightened the deadline for proposing candidates to replace the Constitutional Tribunal judges whose terms were to expire later in the year. This allowed the PO-PSL majority to replace five justices in the final session of the Sejm in advance of the parliamentary elections. Whereas the PO and PSL argued that because the new Sejm would not convene until 12 November 2015, the vote was necessary to preserve the Constitutional Tribunal’s continuity, the PiS saw it as a politically motivated attempt to prevent the new majority from electing the judges since only three of five judges’ terms of office had ended before the parliamentary elections. President Duda refused to swear in the judges, and one of the first decisions of the new parliament was to provide for the re-election of all five new judges, including the three whose term had expired before the elections. This decision led to a protracted conflict between the government and the Constitutional Tribunal. Until the end of the presidency of Andrzej Rzepliński in December 2016, the Constitutional Tribunal did not accept three of the five new judges, whereas the government failed to accept the Constitutional Tribunal’s decision. When Rzepliński’s term expired, the government by legally dubious means succeeded in installing Julia Przyłębska as his successor and in getting the court in line. Przyłębska’s appointment and the composition of the Constitutional Tribunal remain highly controversial.

Citations:
Sadurski, W. (2018): How Democracy Dies (in Poland): A Case Study of Anti-Constitutional Populist Backsliding. Sydney Law School, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18/01, Sydney (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3103491.##).

To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?

10
 9

Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 8
 7
 6


Most integrity mechanisms function effectively and provide disincentives for public officeholders willing to abuse their positions.
 5
 4
 3


Some integrity mechanisms function, but do not effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 2
 1

Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity.
Corruption Prevention
5
Corruption has been a major political issue in the period under review. On the one hand, the PiS government has accused the previous government of corruption. However, the evidence for this claim provided in the government’s May 2016 report on the wrongdoings of the PO-PSL governments has been meager. The report has not yet led to many investigations and arrests. On the other hand, the PiS government has itself been under fire for corruption and cronyism in state-owned enterprises. Thousands of PiS apparatchiks and followers have been placed in management positions, so that a widespread clientelistic network has emerged.
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