Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) government plans to put two contested bills up for votes in the lower house of parliament, the Sejm, in what could be a crucial showdown in one of Europe’s most contentious democracies.
The first bill would allow PiS to appoint Supreme Court judges without consulting the outgoing judges or the opposition. The second bill would further restrict demonstrations, limit access to abortion and provide the party with the power to tax opposition media outlets.
The Sejm, the lower house of parliament, is expected to begin debate and hold a vote on both laws on July 14. In order for the laws to pass, PiS requires the support of 233 of the 460 parliamentarians in the Sejm.
If the two laws pass, PiS will have the power to pass a series of further bills without opposition support. This could enable the government to further undermine judicial independence and limit free expression.
Opposition parties have organised protests to rally against the bills, and many businesses and international organisations have warned that the laws would undermine the rule of law. If the laws pass, Poland could face further sanctions from the EU, which has already sent warnings to the government.