No headway seen from EU hearing

on Poland’s justice policies

BRUSSELS (AP) — Poland faced questions from its European Union partners Tuesday over an overhaul of its judicial system that is seen as a violation of Western democratic standards, while also taking the opportunity to explain its reasons for the contested changes.

In an unprecedented move, the EU’s European Commission launched a rule of law procedure against the Polish government over an alleged erosion of judicial independence in the country. Technically, the procedure could result in Poland losing its EU voting rights, though that is unlikely.

The hearing on Tuesday was a step in the process, but did not seem to deliver meaningful progress.

Frans Timmermans, the commission’s first vice president, said the participants did not get an indication the Polish government would accept more of the commission’s recommendations for compliance.

“We need to solve this issue in a European way, through dialogue. It is essential for the common future,” Timmermans said.

Observers say vote buying strong

ahead of Mexico election

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A coalition of non-governmental groups monitoring Mexico’s election campaigns say vote-buying schemes and threats of cutting off social programs for those who vote wrong have targeted entire communities.

The United Nations-sponsored Citizen Electoral Observation Network said Tuesday it has identified widespread schemes in the run-up to Sunday’s elections.

Civic Alliance, one of 28 participating organizations, says it has received 350 reports from 30 states with violations, such as giving voters cash or cards that will work for purchases after the election.

Beatriz Camacho of Civic Alliance Nuevo Leon says complaints have been made against all the parties, but most have been directed at the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party.

The coalition documented 6,434 active government social programs in Mexico, creating opportunities of the ruling party in each jurisdiction to pressure voters.