21 Feb 2018

Poland's president okays infamous Holocaust bill 

Andrzej Duda signed the legislation but announced that he will pass it to the Consitutional Court for a further check -- a move devoid of both sense and political impact since the court is in the hands of the ruling party.

Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko NewsMavens, Poland
Poland's president okays infamous Holocaust bill  - NewsMavens
Andrzej Duda. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Last week, the Polish parliament accepted a controversial new bill from the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), one that punishes anyone who implies that the Polish state or the Polish nation were complicit in the Nazi death machine. An international diplomatic crises ensued. Despite this, President Duda has signed the bill.

Clearly, he didn't want to take on the role of a scapegoat who refuses to defend his country from slander, which is how this act would have been portrayed in the far-right media. So he chose loyalty to his party over solid relations with Israel and a decent image of Poland abroad. 

The president's decision to pass the bill to the Constitutional Court for a further check once it is signed is a startling choice, given that at this point there is very little that the court can do. Especially, if it is in the hands of the ruling party. It is therefore a purely symbolic, futile gesture -- evident to anyone who has basic knowledge of Polish affairs.

politics, religion

Details from the story:

  • The bill on the National Institute of Rememberance (IPN) penalizes implying (against the facts) that the Polish state or the Polish nation were complicit in the Nazi death machine.
  • It caused a meltdown in the Polish-Israeli diplomatic relations.
  • If President Duda had opted for a veto, he would have to go against the will of not only Jarosław Kaczyński, Poland's most powerful politician, but also of 49% of Poles who support the ruling party PiS -- an unprecedented popularity for any party post 1989.
  • Support for PiS went up by 6% during the scandal.
  • A quick reminder: The Polish Constitutional Court was taken over by the government in December 2016 with an obvious violation of the Polish Constitution," commented Laurent Pech, a professor of European law from Middlesex University in London, on Twitter.
  • "Since then, the ruling party has transformed the court into a good, close associate of the government and the parliamentary majority," he added.
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