The ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) has passed legislation in parliament that effectively neutralises the Constitutional Tribunal.
The new legislation requires that the Constitutional Tribunal pass decisions only with a two-thirds majority and with at least thirteen of the fifteen judges present. Furthermore it gives new powers to the President, allowing him to dismiss judges if he makes such an application to the court along with the Justice Minister. Previously the Constiutional Tribunal could sit with 9 judges present and decisions were passed on a majority vote.
PiS passed the bill with the votes of their own MPs, with all the other parties in parliament voting against. However, what is interesting is that 31 MPs from Citizens' Platform (PO) did not take part in the voting, raising the question as to whether there is a group of PO MPs who would be prepared to help PiS push through a reform of the constitution itself. Such a change requires that 2/3 of MPs vote in favour, with at least 50% of all MPs present.
This decision, which has been pushed through just before the Christmas break, is almost certain to be passed by the Senate, which PiS control, and approved by President Andrzej Duda. It is also certain to raise political tensions and divisions in Poland, as PiS seek to tighten its grip on power.