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European Parliament: Polish policies are anti-democratic

Associated Press Associated Press 14/09/2016

WARSAW, Poland — The European Parliament slammed Polish government policies as anti-democratic for the second time this year Wednesday and urged reforms by the end of next month.

But members of Poland's conservative ruling party brushed off the parliament's resolution as non-binding. They said the European Union should focus instead on such issues as the migrant crisis and Brexit.

The parliament's vote in Strasbourg was the latest development in a standoff between Poland's ruling Law and Justice party, which is critical of many EU policies, and EU leaders and lawmakers who insist the Polish government should adhere to the rules and values of the 28-member bloc.

The vote was 510-160 with 29 abstentions. Polish opposition leader Grzegorz Schetyna said the lopsided tally reflects widespread criticism of the government among EU nations and the growing isolation of Poland's ruling party, which has controlled the government, the Polish parliament and the presidency since last year.

The resolution said that the continuing judicial paralysis that has resulted from government interference with Poland's major constitutional court and the government's blocking of some of the Constitutional Tribunal's verdicts "endanger democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law in Poland."

The European lawmakers urged Poland to solve the constitutional crisis within the three-month deadline set on July 27 by the European Commission. The commission has created procedures for monitoring Poland's respect for the EU's rule of law that could potentially lead to revoking of Poland's voting rights as a member state.

The European Parliament, which is the EU's legislative body, approved a similar resolution in April.

The bloc's lawmakers also pointed to problems Wednesday with new legislation that gave the government control of public media and increased police surveillance powers, and expressed concerns over suggestions that abortions could be outlawed in Poland.

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