POLES HAVE GIVEN THEIR ASSESSMENT OF THE REFORMS OF THE JUDICIARY (public opinion poll)
Poles do not understand the reforms of the judiciary and the majority sees them as detrimental, making the courts increasingly political and functioning worse than in times of the previous ruling coalition – these are the direct conclusions of panel Ariadna conducted in June 2018 on a nationwide representative sample of Poles.
44% of Poles believe that the reforms introduced by Law and Justice (PIS) rather increase or definitely increase the influence of politicians on courts. Only 14.2% of respondents think to the contrary. 38.5% think that the reforms are rather deteriorating or definitely deteriorating the functioning of courts. Only 18.7% of Poles think otherwise.
The personal decisions regarding the replacement of the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of Courts have also been met with a negative opinion. The total negative assessment was voiced by 40% of respondents, while only 24.8% reacted positively though out of this group only 8.2% were definitely in support of these actions. What the present governing administration must also find unpleasant is that the majority of respondents have concluded that the courts now function worse than in the times of the previous PO-PSL ruling coalition (18.2%). Those who thought the opposite were at 11.7%. Others do not have an opinion or see no changes in the efficiency of the courts.
The poll also contained a question about the assessment of the current National Council of the Judiciary. The results are just as crushing – 36% assess it negatively while positive attitudes were expressed by 17.5%, with just 2.5% of respondents voicing their definitely positive assessment.
The poll further revealed a huge ignorance about the essence of the changes introduced to the judiciary. The dominating responses to all the questions were “it is difficult to say”. And only one every fourth Pole (24.2%) claimed to know the reforms well or very well. Over half of those responding (57.9%) declared that they were not well informed or knew nothing about the recent changes introduced by the Ministry of Justice. If we add also the undecided voices (17.9%) then it turns out that over 75% of respondents have no knowledge about the changes introduced by Minister Ziobro’s department.
The huge propaganda machine has been used in order to introduce an alleged reform of the courts and, by that, locate PIS-trusted people in key positions in the Polish judiciary. Polls have shown that the society has not succumbed to this primitive rhetoric. A thesis which seems to find proof now is that the constitutional crisis caused by the present government has become – contrary to the politicians assaulting the rule of law – a great lesson in constitutionalism for all. I am happy that we have learned this lesson well, though the most important test is still ahead of us – says Prof Marcin Matczak from the Faculty of Law and Administration of the Warsaw University.
It only proves that the so called reforms are not in the interest of ordinary people but a group of politicians who focused on filling the seats by their people – said judge Krystian Markiewcz, president of the Iustitia Association of Polish Judges when commenting on the results.
Dr Konrad Maj from the Chair of Social Psychology of the SWPS University adds: the poll is shocking in terms of how little Poles know about the changes in the functioning of the third power in Poland. Consequences of such ignorance and lack of interest can be disastrous.
The poll was conducted on a nationwide sample of N=1066 people, selected from the Ariadna panel, on 8-12 June 2018, by means of the CAWI method.