Kaczynski has absolute power. Public opinion poll commissioned by WP [Wirtualna Polska portal]
PiS [Law and Justice] did not violate the Constitution, the courts will be independent and there is no threat to the rule of law – Jarosław Kaczyński assured on Thursday night. The public opinion poll conducted for WP on the Ariadna panel shows that a big number of Poles does not share this view. They also think that Jarosław Kaczynsiki has absolute power.
On Thursday, the Sejm and the Senat [lower and higher chamber of the Polish parliament] adopted amendments to the laws on the judiciary at a speed of light, and the president, Andrzej Duda, signed them soon after. The changes relate to the Supreme Courts, the National Council of the Judiciary, the courts and the prosecution. As we read in the reasons for the new laws: “the principle aim of the amendments to the law on the National Council of the Judiciary and the law on the Supreme Court is to improve the proceedings carried out the NCJ in cases of appointing judges, including judges of the Supreme Court”.
PIS was mainly aiming at introducing changes pertaining to the selection of the First President of the Supreme Court as it was completely impossible to have Małgorzata Gersdorf replaced without them. In the opinion of many lawyers and constitutional experts, her term in office does not end before 2020.
In the evening, a few hours after the president signed off the new legislation, Jarosław Kaczyński made an unexpected appearance on Polish public television. He assured that the deep reform of justice was, in his view, necessary. He also claimed that PiS was acting in compliance with the Constitution and the judiciary would not be placed under control of the governing powers.
The opposition and protesters underline that after having taken over the Constitutional Court, the common courts, the National Council of the Judiciary, PiS has destroyed the tri-division of power in Poland. This view is shared by many respondents of the opinion poll conducted on commission of WP.
When asked the question “Do you think that there is a tri-division of power in Poland, i.e. an independent legislative, executive, and judicial power?”, 40% of respondents said that no such separation existed. 23% claimed to the contrary, i.e. said that indeed the separation was there. A large number, as many as 37%, was unable to give a definitive answer.
Contrary to what PiS is systematically claiming, the participants of the poll have no doubts that severe problems with regard to the rule of law have taken place. As many as 58% of respondents have admitted so.
Jarosław Kaczynski and PiS have failed to convince Poles that it is the opposition who is responsible for the conflict between the judges and the coalition government. The biggest group of respondents, 29%, believe that it is the government who is responsible for the situation. 18% believe it is the opposition who is holding responsibility, and 9% blames it on the judges. The European Commission, who, according to PiS is getting mixed in the situation of the rule of law in Poland illegitimately, is held responsible for the problems by 5% of respondents.
And what do Poles think about the position of Jarosław Kaczyński? In 2006, the president of Law and Justice (PiS) at a rally in the Gdańsk Shipyard said about his party and his political opponents: “We are where they were then, they are where the militia stood [ZOMO]”. 12 years after the words were said, we asked the Polish people: “Do you think that the president of PiS, Jarosław Kaczyńśki, has absolute and totalitarian power in Poland? The majority, i.e. 54% of respondents replied that definitely yes. This group also included the PiS electorate, with a relatively high percentage of – 34%.
The poll was conducted for Wirtualna Polaks on the Ariadna panel on 20-24 July 2018. The nationwide sample of people over the age of 18 (N – 1051). The quotas were selected according to the representation of gender, age and size of the place of residence (town, city etc).