Polish opposition slams ruling party’s high court nominees

Grzegorz Schetyna, leader of the Civic Platform (PO), Poland’s largest opposition party, has criticised the candidates put forward by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) for three upcoming vacancies on the Constitutional Tribunal, the country’s highest court, the Polish press has reported.

“[Jarosław] Kaczyński wants to humiliate the state,” Mr Schetyna said, adding that a “non-PiS Senate” and a “non-PiS president” are now the country’s “best chances” for democracy.

Civic Platform MP Marcin Kierwinski stressed that the ruling party’s decision was “the destruction of the Polish justice system.”

The statements from the two opposition figures came after PiS parliamentary leader of Ryszard Terlecki announced that the party would nominate two of its former lawmakers and a former deputy finance minister for the court positions.

Speaking in a press conference on November 4, Mr Terlecki said that the candidates were “very competent people with extensive experience, worthy of reforming the justice system.”

Among the candidates is Stanisław Piotrowicz, a former ruling party MP who was a state prosecutor in communist Poland and is best known for prosecuting an opposition activist in the 1980s and stalling the case of a sexually abused minor. He ran for parliament during the October 13 elections, but did not win a seat.

Another nominee, Krystyna Pawłowicz, an outgoing PiS lawmaker, has became known for her harsh remarks on green activists and gay rights defenders.

The third candidate is Elzbieta Chojna-Duch, a Polish academic, who served as deputy finance minister between 2007 and 2010 and was a member of the Monetary Policy Council of the National Bank of Poland from 2010 and 2016.

“We are very serious about these candidates. This is not politicisation, we are proposing people who have the appropriate competences and relevant experience,” said Mr Terlecki in reaction to the opposition’s comments.