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A million Poles protest against the PiS government

“Largest demonstration in history”
A million Poles protest against the PiS government

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The Polish opposition is hoping for a “big change” in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Two weeks before the vote, she is mobilizing against the national conservative PiS party. Hundreds of thousands are marching through the streets and venting their anger at the ruling party.

Two weeks before the parliamentary elections in Poland, around a million people demonstrated against the policies of the national-conservative ruling party PiS. “This is definitely the largest rally in Warsaw's history,” said the mayor's spokeswoman, Monika Beuth. The liberal-conservative Citizens' Coalition (KO), which emerged from Donald Tusk's former ruling party Citizens Platform, called for the “March of Million Hearts”. The demonstration is also supported by the left-wing alliance Lewica.

Opposition leader Tusk said at the start of the protest march: “When I look into these hundreds of thousands of smiling faces, I feel that the turning point in the history of our homeland is approaching.” The opposition wants to use the demonstration to mobilize its supporters before the election on October 15th. The KO hopes to replace the ruling PiS party, which is in constant conflict with the EU, primarily due to constitutional deficits. “A big change is taking place,” said former Prime Minister and former EU Council President Tusk in front of his supporters in the city center of Warsaw. “It is important that the whole of Poland sees that no one is afraid of them anymore,” he said on Thursday, referring to the demo and the PiS.

Numerous demonstrators now streamed into the center of the Polish capital with the flags of Poland and the EU. Former President and Nobel Prize winner Lech Walesa has also announced his participation. Many people had already gathered in Warsaw in the early hours of the morning. Demonstrators came from all over the country to protest against the government.

PiS party is ahead in polls

“We've had enough of what we're experiencing now,” said 65-year-old Kazimierz Figzal from southwest Poland, who said he had to travel seven hours to get to the demonstration. People's freedom is being “curtailed,” he said. “We want democracy, for our children and grandchildren.”

Critics accuse the right-wing nationalist PiS of undermining democratic institutions and especially the judiciary in Poland. Women's and minority rights are also increasingly being curtailed. Recently, government statements about a possible stop to military aid to Ukraine caused irritation, even though Poland has been one of Ukraine's strongest supporters in the fight against Russia. In addition, a scandal surrounding the illegal issuing of visas to migrants put the government, known for its tough course in migration policy, in distress. During the election campaign, the PiS repeatedly stoked anti-German sentiment.

According to a current poll by the Ibris Institute on the elections, the PiS is currently leading with 35 percent, while the Tusk opposition alliance currently has 27 percent of the vote. But according to Tusk, internal surveys commissioned by his own party show that the PiS lead has shrunk to just two percentage points. “The opportunity is within reach, nothing has been decided yet,” said the opposition politician at the beginning of the week. The PiS is organizing its own demo in Katowice in the south of the country this Sunday.

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