An estimated 240,000 people marched in Warsaw on May 7 to protest the ongoing efforts of the Law and Justice (PiS) government to consolidate its grip on power.
The demonstration was the latest in a series this year under the auspices of the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD). However, it was notable that the leaders of the civil protest movement appear to be leaning more heavily towards liberal political parties. The Modern and Civic Platform (PO) parties were more active during the march than during previous protests.
In response to the government’s stand off with the European Union the paralysation of Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal (TK), the demonstration was held under the slogan: “We are and we will be in Europe.” The timing of the march coincided with the 12th anniversary of Poland’s EU membership.
The protest leaders demanded PiS cease efforts to control the TK and voiced support for the EU. The only other option for the country would be to “turn east,” they warned.
In line with nationalist parties across Europe, PiS has accused Brussels of interfering in sovereign issues. Warsaw has been put under the scrutiny of the European Commission due to its actions regarding the constitutional court. International concern has also been raised by efforts to implement close control of state-owned media. Public television station TVP cited police estimates that the protest march featured 30,000-40,000.
The ruling party has stressed that it will not compromise on the TK row, despite Poland’s top judicial body – the Supreme Court – telling courts across the country to respect the rulings of the constitutional court.
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