Poland has seen protests against judicial reforms that give the government control over the office of the prosecutor and the constitutional tribunal.
The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party escalated the confrontation as it forcing a third of Supreme Court judges to retire on Wednesday. The government is targeting former communists and see control over the judiciary as legitimate lustration.
The forced retirement includes the President of the Supreme Court, Malgorzata Gersdorf; Gersdorf told the press that she and her colleagues intended to show up at work on Wednesday, calling her retirement a “purge” under the pretext of a retrospective change in the age of retirement. Under the constitution, Gersdorf could remain in office until 2020.
“In my opinion, I am a president until 2020,” Gersdorf told the television channel TVN24 on Tuesday.
“If in any way the current ruling team attack the Supreme Court, then … I’m going to Warsaw. It’s enough to destroy Poland,” the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Walesa said on his Facebook account.
All eyes are now on President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling party, who could postpone the judges’ retirement. Duda did not show signs of acting as a mediator on Tuesday, saying that he expected the law to be observed.
On Tuesday evening the three biggest opposition parties had organized protests “In Defense of the Supreme Court” in Warsaw and other major cities.
Brussels has made clear it opposes the law enforcing the retirement of Supreme Court judges, as they subvert the bloc’s democratic standards.