Poles protest against government policy

Fears for country's 26-year-old democracy grow as new government moves to neutralise Constitutional Tribunal.

    Poles protest against government policy
    Demonstrations were held in 21 Polish cities as well as in London, Brussels and Tokyo [EPA]

    Protests have taken place across Poland against steps by the new government to neutralise the Constitutional Tribunal as a check on its power, something government opponents are calling a threat to democracy.

    During Saturday's protests, participants - with former anti-communist dissidents among them - said they feared for the country's 26-year-old democracy with the government's moves against the court.

    Refugees in Poland facing racism after Paris attacks

    The Law and Justice party, which took power last month, controls the houses of parliament as well as the presidency, leaving the constitutional court as the only effective check on its power.

    The government of Beata Szydlo, the prime minister, recently appointed five judges to the tribunal.

    The ruling party also plans to pass new legislation in the coming week which would essentially make the court unable to work.

    A key provision of the law would require a two-thirds majority by the 15-judge tribunal for any ruling to be valid, something almost impossible to achieve on contentious issues.

    The result is that the court would not be able to strike down any new legislation that is challenged.

    The proposal is expected to pass on Monday.


    READ MORE: Polish eurosceptic party headed for landslide win


    A rally in front of the parliament in Warsaw, which drew thousands on Saturday, was disbanded quickly due to an bomb threat which turned out to be a hoax.

    Radek Sikorski, former foreign minister and a staunch anti-communist, took part in the gathering in Warsaw, holding up a Polish flag with his family by his side.

    There were demonstrations in about 20 other Polish cities as well as in London, Brussels and Tokyo, organisers said.

    Last week, Martin Schulz, a German member of the European Parliament, compared the current situation in Poland to a "coup d'etat".

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.