The reason for this is a draft law that could have a massive impact on the parliamentary elections in autumn.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Poland against the policies of the national conservative governing party PiS. The organizers spoke of the largest demonstration since the fall of communism in 1989. A spokesman for the organizers, citing information from the city administration, put the number of participants at half a million. The news portal Onet reported at least 300,000 participants at the peak of the march.
The participants in the protest march crowded through the center of Warsaw. The demonstrators carried posters with the inscription “Europe, we apologize for the PiS”, “Abracadabra – gone is the PiS macabre” and “PiS in the urinal”. The Nobel Peace Prize winner and former head of the Solidarnosc trade union, Lech Walesa, also took part in the demonstration.
Memories of the 1989 democracy movement
Former Prime Minister and opposition leader Donald Tusk from the liberal-conservative Civic Platform called for the protest. But other opposition parties also joined.
June 4th is an important date in Poland: the first partially free elections were held on this day in 1989 – a triumph of the democracy movement and the Solidarnosc trade union, which also heralded the end of communist rule. “We are here today so that all of Poland, all of Europe, the whole world can see how strong we are, how many of us are ready to fight for freedom and democracy like 30 and 40 years ago,” said Tusk in front of the protesters.
Resisting “Lex Tusk”
The protest is also directed against a new law that provides for the establishment of a commission of inquiry into Russian influence. Critics accuse the PiS of wanting to use this law a few months before the parliamentary elections to pillory opposition politicians for allegedly being pro-Russian. The commission is to investigate whether public officials made decisions under Russian influence in the years 2007 to 2022 that endangered Poland’s security. Polish media speak of a “Lex Tusk” – a law coined on Tusk.
The man from Gdańsk was the Polish head of government from 2007 to 2014 and is considered the fiercest political opponent of PiS boss Jaroslaw Kaczynski. The PiS government accuses him of having signed unfavorable gas contracts with Russia.