Poles protest planned overhaul of courts, election body

Poles in cities across the country are on the streets protesting plans by the ruling party to push through new laws that would give it greater control over the courts and the national election commission.

The demonstrators rallied late Friday under the slogan "free courts, free elections, free Poland," after lawmakers voted earlier in the day to give preliminary approval to the changes.

The ruling Law and Justice party has already pushed through two laws which have given it greater power over the Constitutional Tribunal and ordinary courts. Two other bills on the judicial system that sparked large protests in the summer were blocked by the president but have returned to the legislature in modified form.

The European Union says that if passed, they would undermine the separation of powers.