Sunday, 30 July 2017

One swallow does not make a summer

President Duda’s veto to two out of three new laws overturning the justice system in Poland came as a shock to all participant of Polish political arena and to nearly all by-standers. PiS politicians have been left speechless, as they had believed a set of three signatures should have been a formality. Voice of the opposition was barely audible since they had not prepared speeches for the possibility of vetoing scenario.

Over nearly two years in office, Mr Duda obediently used to sign off all laws coming the parliament dominated by the party he owes his current position. For many months the incumbent president seemed deaf to doubts raised by lawyers and international organisations; only recently he called into question the amended laws on Regional Accountancy Chambers (according to opponents of PiS meant to facilitate overpowering local governments).

The recent double-veto, a painful blow to a grouping which raised Mr Duda to presidency was preceded by intense civic protests (of course those who took to the streets were descendants of communist secret service agents, thieves, traitors and other scoundrels), however I doubt thousands of people giving vent to their disapproval in major cities of Poland were capable of making the president change his mind. Most probably the veto was influenced by voices of people who are deemed to be authorities to Mr Duda.

Alternative theories say the whole veto story might be just a set-up clash devised by Mr Kaczynski or that Mr Duda has decided to finally build a reputation of an independent representative of executive power, not just a notary of his partisans from PiS.

By the way, the verbal clash between representatives of Mr Duda and PiS-run ministry of justice has been probably the biggest split in the crew of Dobra Zmiana since it has got hold of power. Beware though, the crack is not so deep to tear apart the faction which is in charge of the country.

This situation is a crucial reminder the office of president is theoretically independent from any political party and acts as a separate public functionary. In practice, as each of the presidents of Poland after 1989 won the election thanks to his political entourage, the common measure of independence is the number of draft laws coming from a president’s political comrades vetoed or number of draft laws put forward by a president’s political opponents signed off without a murmur.

I find it hard to assess drivers of Mr Duda’s resistance. One swallow does not make a summer, yet I am keeping fingers crossed for him as a constitution guardian. He would need to strain a lot and show a lot of independence to make up for two years of submission to his political henchmen and to erase the track record of signing off whatever comes around.

Off to Wielkopolska for the next weekend, so expect a new note around 13 August.

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