MEP defends judicial reforms and hits out at EU’s ‘degenerate’ liberalism

Member of European Parliament (MEP) Ryszard Legutko. Wiktor Dąbkowski

“More than 80 percent of Poles want the legal system to be reformed,” says MEP Ryszard Legutko.

A Polish philosopher and MEP has claimed Poland is now a “dissident state” within the EU, and launched a robust defence of the Polish government’s controversial changes to the judicial system.

In an interview published in Politico, Ryszard Legutko, from the governing Law and Justice party, also attacked what he sees as the prevailing “liberal” orthodoxy that he feels wishes to dictate how people should run their lives while suppressing dissent at the same time.

Mr Legutko, who served briefly as education minister in the 2005-2007 Law and Justice government, had previously written that the EU represents liberal democracy in its most “degenerate version.” This, he explains, has fuelled opposition to it and that now the EU “doesn’t merely have individual dissidents in its midst, but also dissident states” such as Poland and Hungary.

The Poles and the Hungarians, claims Mr Legutko, have riled the EU because they have dared to reject an alleged “liberal paradigm” that Brussels wishes to impose on all countries within the EU and the people within them.

“A liberal is somebody who will come up to you and tell you, ‘I will organise your life for you. I will tell you what kind of liberty you will have. And then you can do whatever you like’,” the MEP told Politico.

Poland, he claimed, has rejected this and that is why it is now “a dissident member of the EU, and the primary reason why it has been attacked so much. Not because we did something outrageous, but because of who we refuse to be.”

Mr Legutko added that Poland has attracted more attention and more criticism than its fellow dissident Hungary because of its size, which makes it more important.

Much of this criticism, of late, has resulted from the introduction of changes to the judicial system that have been condemned by Brussels amid fears the government is trying to politicise the judiciary.

Defending the changes Mr Legutko claims that “more than 80 percent of Poles want the legal system to be reformed” and that many Poles have had a “bad experience” at the hands of the courts. He also added that within the Polish Supreme Court, the body at the epicentre of a recent political storm over the changes, there are “still members who faithfully and shamelessly served the communist regime in the past.” A claim disputed by government critics and those opposed to the overhaul of the court.