In this policy brief, prominent critic of the ruling Law and Justice Party Marcin Matczak presents the crucial events of ‘the Polish constitutional crisis’, and what has been widely described as a backsliding on the part of Poland into authoritarianism.
He explains the nature and possible causes of the crisis, in which the government has assumed full control of the appointment of new judges, and is attempting to enforce the retirement of over a third of sitting judges, including the president of the Supreme Court, in contravention of the Polish Constitution. The moves have been condemned by the European Commission, which has announced its intention to take the Polish government to the European Court of Justice over the legislation, on the grounds that “these measures undermine the principle of judicial independence".
The author offers three explanations for the causes of the crisis: (1) historical, originating from the smooth, non-punitive nature of the post-Communist transition; (2) legal, relating to the excessive formalism of Polish legal culture; and (3) sociological, as a crisis of liberalism and of political identification among the youth and across society at large.
Marcin Matczak is a lawyer and academic in Warsaw, and is a frequent commentator in The Guardian and other media outlets on the ongoing threats to the judiciary in Poland and the response by the EU.
Across Europe, the question of whether quotas should be enforced for the highest ranking corporate positions as a means to addressing gender injustice is under vigorous discussion. Much of the debate has focused on the Directive drafted by the European Commission in 2012, which would place an ‘obligation of means’ on listed companies to ensure that at least 40% of non-executive directors (or 30% of all directors) of each corporate board are female by 2020.
In this policy brief, constitutional law and human rights expert Gábor Tóth examines the changing face of authoritarianism, warning that this could become known as the century of authoritarianism as a result of the institutional erosion of democracies around the world.
Matthew Nelson, Reader in Politics at SOAS, presents a deeper understanding of competing constitutional approaches to the relationship between Islamic law and parliamentary power in Pakistan, in order to shed light on the relationship between Islam and democracy more generally.