Polish leader puts brakes on judicial shakeup
WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s president unexpectedly announced Monday that he will veto two bills that would have sharply curtailed the independence of the judiciary, a victory for peaceful protesters who had gathered by candlelight every night for more than a week.
The European Union criticized the bills as assaults on the democratic system of checks and balances and threatened to begin proceedings soon to strip Poland of its voting rights in the 28-member bloc. President Andrzej Duda ``made the right decision,’’ Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of a liberal alliance in the European Parliament, tweeted. ``But the fight for rule of law in Poland goes on _ we are with the Polish people!’’
The protests mark one of the most significant acts of civic mobilization since the Solidarity protests led by Lech Walesa in the 1980s, with large numbers of young Poles attending rallies daily fearing they might lose a future in a democratic state fully integrated in the West.
Walesa, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president who helped end communism peacefully in 1989, praised Duda for what he called ``a difficult and a courageous decision.’’
Many Poles fear that a loss of basic democratic rights will change the county into a semiauthoritarian state, mirroring conditions in some other places in Eastern Europe.