About one million people participated in a demonstration called by the Polish opposition (Sunday) in the center of the capital, Warsaw, against the nationalist populist government, 15 days before the legislative elections, according to what the capital’s municipality confirmed.
“This is definitely the largest demonstration in Warsaw’s history,” city municipality spokeswoman Monica Booth told Agence France-Presse.
For their part, the organizers of the demonstration confirmed earlier that hundreds of thousands of Poles participated.
At the beginning of the march, former Prime Minister and former President of the European Council Donald Tusk, who became the leader of the “Centrist Civic Platform” bloc, said: “When I see hundreds of thousands of smiling faces, I feel that a decisive moment in the history of our country is coming.”
The demonstration aimed to mobilize people from across the country, which has been ruled by nationalists for 8 years.
The “March of a Million Hearts,” as Tusk called it, began at 10 a.m. GMT, and the main streets in the center of the capital were crowded with crowded crowds.
Tusk stressed that it represents “one of the largest events” in Poland’s modern history, and will be one of “the largest demonstrations in Europe in recent years.”
The former prime minister said Thursday during a public meeting in Elbling (north), speaking about the ruling Law and Justice Party: “They will not intimidate us, and they will not force us to be silent. It is necessary for all of Poland to see that no one fears them anymore.”
On Sunday, the ruling party is organizing a mass rally in the southern city of Katowice.
In Warsaw, the demonstrators expressed their rejection of the authorities’ positions, waving Polish and European flags and placing on their clothes an image of a small white and red heart, which is the symbol of the Center Alliance.
Donald Tusk, former Polish Prime Minister (AFP)
Demonstrator Kazimierz Figzal confirmed that he came to the capital from southwestern Poland on a 7-hour trip.
The 65-year-old told Agence France-Presse: “We are tired of what we are witnessing today. Our freedom has been curtailed. We want democracy for our children and grandchildren.”
Opposition leaders are scheduled to deliver speeches at the end of the march.
Former President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1983, Lech Walesa, announced his participation.
“Nothing has been decided.”
Despite its many conflicts with the European Union and its accusation of undermining the rule of law, the Law and Justice Party, led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, maintains a comfortable lead in opinion polls, with about 35 percent of voting intentions, according to the Ipress Institute.
The “Civic Platform” party comes second, with support from 27 percent of voters, according to the institute.
But Donald Tusk confirms that opinion polls conducted by his party show that the Law and Justice Party’s lead has recently shrunk to only two percentage points.
“Nothing has been decided yet,” he said in Elbling, pledging to hold the current authorities accountable following the elections.
Speaking about ruling party officials, he added: “Many of them will go to prison on charges of theft and violating the law and the constitution.”
Protester Bartlomy Biella came from Katowice, where a PiS march is scheduled, to the capital to participate in the opposition march and protest against what is happening in Poland.
The 29-year-old said he was protesting against the violation of basic civil rights and women’s freedom to choose their lifestyle, and the incitement of Poles against each other… hoping that the march would mobilize people for change.
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