Amid protests, pres­i­dent puts brakes on ju­di­cial shake-up

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Vanessa Gera

WAR­SAW, POLAND» Pres­i­dent An­drzej Duda un­ex­pect­edly an­nounced Mon­day he will veto two bills that would have cur­tailed the in­de­pen­dence of the ju­di­ciary sharply, a vic­tory for protesters who had gath­ered by can­dle­light ev­ery night for more than a week.

The Euro­pean Union crit­i­cized the bills as as­saults on demo­cratic checks and bal­ances and threat­ened to be­gin pro­ceed­ings soon to strip Poland of its vot­ing rights.

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. Many Poles fear a loss of ba­sic demo­cratic rights will change the coun­try into a semi-au­thor­i­tar­ian state, mir­ror­ing con­di­tions in East­ern Europe.

Walesa, the No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate and for­mer pres­i­dent who helped end Com­mu­nist rule peace­fully in 1989, praised Duda for what he called “a dif­fi­cult and a coura­geous de­ci­sion.”

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