Poland's president has defied the leader of his country's powerful ruling party and blocked a plan to upend the court system. President Andrzej Duda vetoed two of three bills that would have given politicians far more control over the courts than they have now, reports Reuters. Critics said the changes, which would have allowed Poland's top judges to be effectively fired and replaced by the ruling Law and Justice Party, amounted to a political takeover of the judiciary. In fact, the European Union had warned that Poland might no longer qualify as a democracy had they gone through.
"As president I don't feel this law would strengthen a sense of justice," Duda said on national TV, per the BBC. "These laws must be amended." The decision puts him squarely in opposition to Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who runs the Law and Justice Party and is seen as the most powerful politician in the country despite not holding an official government post. Thousands of protesters had taken to the streets in opposition to the laws. While Duda vetoed two of three measures, the one he allowed to take effect gives the justice minister more control over judges on lower courts. (Read more Poland stories.)