Follow the big issues that shape Polish politics and society by signing up to our weekly newsletter "News from Poland: Democracy at Stake". It allows you to stay up to speed on developments concerning the ongoing assault on democratic institutions, rule of law, and human rights in Poland.
There was no press conference, no cameras, no pictures. Only a laconic statement on the President's website. On Good Friday, Andrzej Duda had signed four bills, including one that bans the renaming of certain streets. The president has apparently not found it alarming that the new law is to be put into effect retroactively, i.e. from January 1, 2022.
It was one of the bill’s legal flaws pointed out by the Senate, which in March recommended throwing the bill in the bin. At the beginning of April, however, the Senate's veto was rejected by the lower house of the Polish parliament where the national-conservative ruling camp has a majority. Just eight days later, President Duda signed the bill into law.
The act provides governors with a right to invalidate resolutions of local councils on changing the names of streets and roundabouts commemorating the founding fathers of Polish independence (including the avowed antisemite Roman Dmowski) and saints (including John Paul II) as well as a vaguely defined category of people who "contributed to the building and strengthening of the Polish State, the identity of the Polish Natio, or the development of the Polish society". It also introduces a ban on dismantling monuments of these patrons.
The bill was initiated by the Law and Justice party MP Paweł Lisiecki. He openly admitted that it was a reaction to a single event: the fact that the Warsaw City Council adopted a petition on renaming the Dmowski Roundabout in Warsaw as the Women's Rights Roundabout (which in itself is not enough to officially change the name of the roundabout).
What is more, the ruling camp has added several provisions to the bill unrelated to the law’s main concern. One of them allows the government to commission tasks to NGOs without competitive tendering. – This is completely arbitrary. It is scandalous, really - said the opposition senator Barbara Zdrojewska when the bill was discussed in the Senate. Even the bill’s initiator, Mr. Lisiecki, was unable to not explain the merit of the contested provision.
Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Our journalists are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.
We decided to make our service available to everyone free of charge in order to provide access to high quality journalism for expats and English speakers interested in Polish affairs.
The access to information should be equal for all.
Wybierz prenumeratę, by czytać to, co Cię ciekawi
Wyborcza.pl to zawsze sprawdzone informacje, szczere wywiady, zaskakujące reportaże i porady ekspertów w sprawach, którymi żyjemy na co dzień. Do tego magazyny o książkach, historii i teksty z mediów europejskich. Zrezygnować możesz w każdej chwili.