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Tuesday 21 November 2017 20:30
  • EC
  • ELG
Public debate

Democracy in Europe: What about Poland?
Why is Polish democracy backsliding, and what can we do about it?

Poland demonstration.JPG

In 2015 the Peace and Justice Party (PiS) won the Polish elections. PiS quickly took a number of measures to erode checks and balances, particularly the Constitutional Court, and the judiciary more broadly, and the media.

The measures were and are controversial in Poland. The European Commission launched its Rule of Law Framework and has indicated that it is prepared to initiate the triggering of article 7. Many other international and professional organizations, including the Council of Europe (Venice Commission) and national Councils for the Judiciary and Supreme Courts in Europe have denounced the recent reforms.

The sudden deterioration of the rule of law in Poland, long regarded as one of the most successful examples of democratic transformation after the fall of the Berlin wall, has taken many by surprise. How is it possible that the rule of law in Poland was undermined so quickly? Can we understand, through history, the causes of this collapse? What, if anything, can outside organizations do to help prevent further backsliding? Together with experts we will explore these questions and try to answer them.

The evening will consist of three key-notes, followed by a discussion with a panel and with the audience. The evening will be moderated by Lousewies van der Laan, former MP for D66 and board member of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Key-note speakers

Adam Bodnar is the Polish Ombudsman. Before that he was the vice-president of the Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, and has had several major victories before the Polish Constitutional Tribunal and the European Court of Human. His candidacy as Ombudsman was supported by 65 non-governmental organizations dealing with human rights.

Wojciech Sadurski is Challis Professor in Jurisprudence at the University of Sydney. He also holds the position of Professor at the Centre for Europe in the University of Warsaw. He regularly writes op-eds in the Polish media on the current rule of law crisis. 

Kees Sterk is member of the executive board of the Dutch Council for the Judiciary. Before joining the Council for the Judiciary he was a judge in the district court of Breda (1994-2000), the appellate court of Den Bosch (2000-2008) and the Supreme Court (2008-2013). He was an academic at Tilburg University before he started his career in the judiciary. Sterk recently published various critical essays on the rule of law crisis in Poland in the Nederlands Juristenblad.


Marta Bucholc - Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Bonn, Germany.
Bojan Bugaric - University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Adam Czarnota - University of New South Wales in Australia & University of Wroclaw in Poland.
Gábor Halmai - European University Institute in Florence.
Radoslaw Markowski - Polish Academy of Sciences & Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities.


More information and tickets via De Balie


Image: Mathiasrex, via Wikimedia Commons



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