US, EU criticize Poland over planned law that could keep opposition from holding office

US President Joe Biden, right, is greeted by Polish President Andrzej Duda, at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, February 22, 2023. (Evan Vucci/AP)
US President Joe Biden, right, is greeted by Polish President Andrzej Duda, at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, February 22, 2023. (Evan Vucci/AP)

The United States and the European Union criticize Polish plans for a law that could keep political opponents from holding public office without full legal recourse, and the EU threatens to take measures if it became fully clear such a law would undermine democratic standards.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said early this week he would sign a bill that critics view as a tool to remove from political life the opponents of the ruling party — mostly notably opposition leader Donald Tusk, the former EU Council president.

Parliament last Friday already approved the bill, which was proposed by the ruling conservative Law and Justice party as the country heads toward a parliamentary election in the autumn.

Experts say the law violates the Polish Constitution and the opposition has called on Duda to reject it.

“The US Government is concerned by the Polish government’s passage of new legislation that could be misused to interfere with Poland’s free and fair elections,” says US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. He adds such a law “could be used to block the candidacy of opposition politicians without due process.”

The 27-nation EU, of which Poland is a member, also issues criticism.

EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders says such a law would be “able to deprive citizens, individuals of their rights to be elected in a public function — public office.”

He says that what specifically irks him is that “it will be possible to do that as an administrative decision without any judicial review.”

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