President says action needed if Constitutional Tribunal fails to function
Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, said on Thursday that it was necessary to take steps if the country’s Constitutional Tribunal was failing to function as it should.
"I am very concerned about this situation," the president told the Interia web portal. "I believe that it is the duty of the judges to make the Tribunal work, so here everything depends on the judges."
The Constitutional Tribunal has been deadlocked now for a number of months owing to a dispute within it over just when the term in office of its head, Julia Przyłębska, ends.
In January, six judges called on her to resign, arguing that her term in office expired at the end of last year. But Przyłębska, who has the backing of key figures in PiS, rejects this, claiming that she can remain in office till the end of 2024.
So far, Przyłębska has rebuffed attempts to set wheels in motion for her replacement but with six judges refusing to recognise her legitimacy the court cannot get the required number of judges for a sitting.
Duda's comments came in response to a question about his motives for submitting a draft amendment on a commission to investigate Russian influence on Polish politics over the past two decades a few days after the bill was submitted to the Constitutional Tribunal.
"Today, I say once again that everything depends on the judges and I can only repeat the appeal for them to cease arguing and to get to work," he said.
On June 16, the lower house of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, adopted an amendment to the law establishing a commission to examine alleged Russian influence on Poland's security.
The amendment had been tabled by Duda on June 2.
The commission law, which came into force at the end of May, prompted a storm of criticism, including from the EU and the US, owing to fears the commission could use its powers to exclude people from public office and bar opposition politicians from running in this autumn's general election.
The presidential amendment, in a possible attempt to mollify the law's critics, removed or watered down some of its more contentious points.
It stipulates that MPs or senators are excluded from sitting on the commission, and that the commission will not have the power to ban anyone from holding public office.