Poland's president signs contested constitutional court law

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Posted: Dec 28, 2015 2:07 PM
Poland's president signs contested constitutional court law

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's President Andrzej Duda on Monday approved controversial legislation that regulates the Constitutional Tribunal, the nation's highest court, and appealed for "truth" in debates that are also heard abroad.

Some European Union leaders have expressed alarm at the fast-paced legislative changes taken by the new conservative government. The opposition, which now controls the court, claims that Poland's democracy is threatened because the court will lose its power to check the government's actions. It has led tens of thousands of people in street protests in past weeks. Simultaneous pro-government rallies were also held.

Duda said he believes the legislation, which came into effect Monday, will enhance the court's position and authority as it requires a greater number of judges than before to agree on verdicts and a larger majority for key issues.

Duda stressed it will help the government push ahead with promised reforms of higher tax exemptions, bonuses for large families and lower retirement age. He expressed hope that the adoption of the regulations will help put an end to the heated debates surrounding the court, whose job it is to examine contested legislation to ensure it does not violate the constitution.

"A higher majority guarantees that these lawyers will be reaching agreement to a higher degree," Duda said in a statement at the Presidential Palace.

Anticipating new argument, he appealed for "truth and no manipulation" in the debate because "words said here are also heard abroad."

"We should remember that every word is heard not only in Poland, but because Poland is one of the largest EU countries, the words uttered here are also heard abroad," Duda said.

"'So I ask for truth and no manipulation, I ask for facts to be presented the way they are, also the facts that have legal value."