The New Ombudsman: an Independent Institution or Just Another Shell?
- On 9 September 2020, Adam Bodnar's 5-year term as Ombudsman came to an end. Pursuant to Article 3(6) of the Law on the Ombudsman, the incumbent Ombudsman is to perform his duties until the new Ombudsman takes office.
- Due to the ruling coalition's resistance to submit its own proposals, for a long time there was only one candidate to succeed the current Ombudsman - Zuzanna Rudzińska-Bluszcz - the former Chief Coordinator for Strategic Litigation in the Ombudsman's Office.
- Zuzanna Rudzińska-Bluszcz's candidacy was endorsed by nearly 1,200 civic organizations from across the country, including the Civil Development Forum.
- On 21 January 2021, more than 4 months after the end of Adam Bodnar's term, by the votes of the ruling coalition, the Sejm voted down the candidacy of one of the Law and Justice MPs, Piotr Wawrzyk, who had been put forward for the race for the post of the Ombudsman in December 2020. 
- Currently, it is the Senate of the Republic of Poland that faces the final choice whether it will approve the candidacy supported by Law and Justice. In view of such a strong concentration of power in the hands of the ruling party, the best solution would be to reject the nomination, waiting for a candidate who will provide guarantees of independence from politicians.
- At the same time, a motion was submitted to the Constitutional Court by the MPs of the ruling majority to demonstrate the unconstitutionality of the provision allowing the incumbent Ombudsman to serve until the vacancy is filled.
- The fight over the ombudsman remains a matter of critical importance for civil society. The Ombudsman is the last watchdog public institution that has not been filled by a political appointee of the ruling majority.
Contact the author:
Eliza Rutynowska, FOR Lawyer
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