BRUSSELS (AP) – The top judiciaries of the United States and the European Union criticized a proposed law in Poland on Tuesday that could bar opposition politicians from holding public office without a legal challenge.
The European Union threatened action if it became clear the rule would undermine democratic standards.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said this week he would sign a bill that critics see as an attempt to oust rivals of the ruling party from political life, notably opposition leader Donald Tusk, a former European Council member. is the chairman. Parliament approved the text proposed by the ruling Law and Justice party last Friday, as the country is due to hold parliamentary elections in the autumn.
Experts say the law violates the Polish constitution and the opposition has called on Duda to reject it.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, “The United States government is concerned about the passage of new legislation by the Polish government that could be misused to interfere with free and fair elections in Poland.” The rule, he said, “can be used to block the candidacy of opposition politicians without due process.”
The European Union, of which Poland is one of the 27 members, also criticized the initiative.
Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said on Tuesday that such a law “could deprive citizens, individuals of the civil service, of the right to be elected to public office.”
He said that a particular concern for him was “that it would be possible to do this as an administrative decision without any judicial review.”
Ahead of a meeting of European ministers to discuss the rule of law situation in Hungary and Poland, Randers said the EU “will not hesitate to take action if necessary, as such a system without real access to justice would Impossible to accept.”
Polish law would officially create a powerful commission to investigate Russian influence in Poland. Duda has insisted that the law does not empower the commission to remove anyone from public or political life. In a partial concession to critics who consider the law unconstitutional, Duda said he would also refer it to the Constitutional Court to review whether the text is in accordance with the constitution.
The commission is due to submit a report on its findings on September 17, weeks before elections in October or November, and could impose sanctions such as a 10-year ban on holding positions over public funds.
Law and Justice accused Tusk of being too close to Russia during his tenure as prime minister between 2007 and 2014 and of closing deals favorable to Russia before becoming president of the European Council between 2014 and 2019.
Tusk and ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski have been political rivals for years.