Ruling coalition split over EU-required court reforms
Poland's United Right governing coalition exposed a crack on Wednesday in a vote on a Supreme Court bill that was meant to quell Brussels' concerns over the rule of law in Poland.
Solidary Poland, a small ally of its senior coalition partner Law and Justice (PiS), joined forces with the far-right Confederation party to vote against further work on a bill reforming the Supreme Court. The PiS government wants the reform to go ahead quickly to gain access to the much-needed EU pandemic recovery funds that have remained frozen for months due to rule-of-law concerns.
Solidary Poland leader and justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro, at a press conference on Wednesday, likened the European Commission (EC), the EU's executive arm, to "an organised crime group" and said the EC "uses blackmail to force changes to the Polish legal order."
"Therefore, Solidary Poland will never take part in writing bills to the specifications of Brussels bureaucrats," Ziobro said.
Confederation motioned for scrapping the bill and was supported by 20 Solidary Poland MPs, including Ziobro. The bill will be proceeded further as 414 MPs voted to continue working on it.
This did not sour the relations within the ruling coalition, according to the PiS secretary general, Krzysztof Sobolewski. "We have a difference of opinions and it is visible, but I don't predict it will impact the quality of our relations, which have been developing well since 2014," Sobolewski told PAP.
If its junior partner continues to refuse to support the bill, PiS will face an uneasy task of asking the opposition for support. Additionally, the Senate is dominated by the opposition and the upper house may introduce its own amendments to the bill.
In December 2022, Polish President Andrzej Duda, who was the mastermind of the current Supreme Court law, said that he would not allow "for the introduction of any legal act... that would undermine judicial nominations and that would allow for the verification of appointments made by the Polish president."