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Poland's ruling party lawmakers OK new rules for judiciary

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's parliament voted Wednesday to amend regulations governing a top judicial body despite protests from the opposition, which said that would violate the constitution and bring judges under political influence.

The vote was 227-5 in Poland's 460-member lower house. Most of the opposition did not vote to protest the new regulations for the National Council of the Judiciary.

Under the new rules, the council's current term would expire immediately after the regulations take effect. New members will be elected by the parliament, which is dominated by the ruling conservative Law and Justice party. Until now, the council members were elected by judges.

The opposition says the ruling party is violating the constitution and wants to eliminate judicial independence.

Poland's government is under criticism from European Union leaders who say its policies threaten the rule of law.

The council's tasks include enforcing ethical guidelines for judges and reviewing judicial candidates.

The regulations are expected to win approval from the upper house of parliament and from President Andrzej Duda, who won office on a Law and Justice ticket.

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