President refuses to sign amended education bill into law

"We do not need additional tensions in Poland," the president said. Leszek Szymański/PAP

Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, has refused to sign an amendment to an education law that has run into opposition from NGOs.

The amendment aims to bring the activities of social organisations under greater central control, prompting criticism from them that the education authorities could try to exclude any body that fails to conform with the government's conservative values.

"Having become acquainted with opinions voiced by various social organisations, I refuse to sign the amended education bill into law," Duda told reporters on Thursday.

"We do not need additional tensions in Poland," the president said.

The amendment was to cover the operations of social organisations and associations at schools and kindergartens, to increase the supervision of schools by superintendents and to change home schooling regulations.

"I have received a total of 133 protest letters. Some of them have been even signed by several dozen social organisations," the president said, adding that there had been no public hearing and that the draft was authored by MPs which had considerably narrowed social consultations on the legislation.

"It is obvious that the draft had not won broad public approval," Duda said.

According to the president, the amendment raised serious doubts among representatives of all sides of the political scene.

Having repeated that he had refused to sign the amendment into law, Duda said that he was aware of the fact that some people would be disappointed with his decision.

"But I also believe that a considerable part of our society will calm down," the president concluded.

Speaking later on Thursday, Rafał Bochenek, a spokesman for Law and Justice, the governing party, said: "President Andrzej Duda has used his constitutional right and vetoed the bill." 

According to Bochenek, this is the end of the legislative process regarding the bill authored by Education Minister Przemysław Czarnek. "The subject is closed," he added.

Asked whether there were plans to send another bill to parliament, Bochenek said that he had not heard of anything.