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European Parliament: Poland's Policies Threaten Democracy

  • Associated Press

FILE - Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session in Strasbourg, France, April 12, 2016.

FILE - Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session in Strasbourg, France, April 12, 2016.

The European Parliament on Wednesday condemned Polish government policies, saying they paralyze a top court and threaten Poland's democracy and the rule of law.

The vote was part of European Union pressure on Poland's conservative government to find a solution to a political conflict surrounding the country's Constitutional Tribunal and recent changes to the legislation that regulates appointments of its judges. The European Parliament urged the government to unblock the court by publishing a recent ruling, something the government refuses to do.

In their resolution the EU lawmakers said that actions taken by Poland's government and president have led to the "effective paralysis of the Constitutional Tribunal which poses a danger to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.''

The resolution was adopted in Strasbourg, France by a 513-142 vote with 30 abstentions. It is non-binding, but could pave the way for further EU procedures and indicates that Poland's international reputation has been damaged under the Law and Justice government that took office in November.

The resolution drew criticism from Poland's ruling party lawmakers, who said it misrepresented the situation in Poland and sided with Poland's opposition parties.

The opposition politicians said the vote was a sign that things are going in the wrong direction under the current government.

In January, the EU opened a preliminary assessment of the rule of law in Poland - the first step in a drawn-out procedure that could ultimately lead to suspending Warsaw's voting rights in the 28-nation bloc.

The resolution suggested the procedure should advance if Poland, an EU member since 2004, fails to follow the recommendations voted in on Wednesday.

The resolution stressed all EU members must observe the bloc's values and principles.

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