Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of the capital Warsaw to protest against the government of Andrzej Duda, just a few months before the legislative elections. The demonstrators denounced, among other things, the “Lex Tusk”, a law created to fight against foreign interference but denounced as an instrument of repression of the opposition.
Half a million Poles were in the streets of the capital this Sunday, June 4, and in several cities of the country to protest against the party in power Law and Justice and fight for democracy. The demonstration called by the opposition was a success, especially a few months before the legislative elections to be held in October and November.
The opposition leaders had not chosen the date at random, since June 4, 1989 was the date on which the first partially free elections were held, a symbol of democracy in the country.
“Enough” and “We don’t want an authoritarian Poland” were the slogans on the banners carried by the protesters.
“I have come because I do not agree with what is happening. I want to live in a country where I feel safe. Where there are free media, free courts, free schools,” Jolanta Bak told AFP in Warsaw.
Many people also expressed their fear of seeing the nation follow Hungary and Turkey on their path to autocracy.
“If this doesn’t change, it will be Hungary or it will be Turkey. That is the situation, and I don’t want that to happen. I want (Poland) to be a free country, I want to be able to speak freely about any subject and do what you want and not what ordered,” Piotr told AFP.
Lech Walesa, who was the leader of Solidarity, the world’s first communist free trade union in the 1980s, took part in the march. Walesa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and had been absent from the political scene for many years.
On Sunday, he said he had waited “patiently” for the day the Law and Justice party had to leave. “Mr. Kaczynski, we have come to look for you. That day has arrived,” he declared in reference to Jarosław Kaczyński, creator and president of Law and Justice.
Also participating in the march was Donald Tusk, leader of the opposition Civic Platform party and a former prime minister. In a brief speech, and in reference to the presence of Lech Walesa, Donald Tusk stressed that the mission of the opposition is “of comparable importance” to that of the eighties against communism.
This Sunday, people denounced in particular the law on the Foreign Interference Investigation Commission, which allows politicians suspected of favoring Russian interests to be investigated, but considered an internal repression apparatus.
According to several Polish constitutional experts, what they call “Lex Tusk” could prevent Donald Tusk from reaching the post of prime minister if he wins the November elections.
“We are going to these elections to win and to correct human errors. I promise you victory, the settlement of wrongs, compensation for human grievances and reconciliation among Poles,” Tusk told the crowd.
October elections could be close but the Law and Justice party remains ahead in some polls. According to a Pollster poll published on May 29, more than 32% of voting intentions are attributed to the presidential party and 27% to the Civic Coalition, which includes the Civic Platform.
Since the war in Ukraine, Law and Justice has been the main voice against the Kremlin in Europe, which favors the party. In addition, since he came to power in 2015, he has been able to exercise a populist policy, with greater social spending at the same time as conservative policies.
The Government denies going against democratic norms and affirms that one of its objectives is to protect traditional Christian values against the West. He supports the Church and restricted the right to abortion in the country.
“Women have lost the right to have an abortion even when the fetus is terminally ill, and some women have died,” Barbara told the AP.
Law and Justice also came to control the judiciary and the media. It is also feared that it will lead Poland to leave the European Union.
The opposition called for a massive turnout in the elections in order to stop the presidential party.
With AP and AFP