240 000 Poles flood central Warsaw in anti-govt protest

2016-05-07 18:01
Opponents of Poland's government march downtown streets to protest the country's direction under a conservative government. (Czarek Sokolowski, AP)

Opponents of Poland's government march downtown streets to protest the country's direction under a conservative government. (Czarek Sokolowski, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Warsaw - Tens of thousands of people marched on Saturday in central Warsaw to show their opposition to the policies of the conservative government, which they view as anti-democratic and harmful to Poland's position in the European Union.

City authorities estimated that 240 000 turned out, which if true would make it the largest anti-government demonstration since the Law and Justice party took power last year and embarked on bringing deep changes to the country.

There was also a counter-protest held by nationalists who voiced opposition to influence by Brussels in Poland's affairs, but it drew significantly fewer people.

The protest and counter-protest highlight a bitter social divide in Poland between those who want deeper integration with Europe and those who feel that EU membership has eroded national sovereignty, only recently regained after the end of the Cold War.

The anti-government march was held under the motto "We are and will remain in Europe" and comes just days after the 12th anniversary of Poland joining the EU.

It was organized by the opposition party Civic Platform and the civic group Committee for the Defense of Democracy, known in Poland as KOD, and was supported by other opposition parties.

KOD was created in November, shortly after Law and Justice took power and began taking steps that have weakened the Constitutional Tribunal. That move and others which have helped the party centralize power have been condemned by the EU and the Council of Europe, a human rights group, which says the government in Warsaw is eroding the rule of law.

The party says its changes are aimed at building a stronger nation free of what it says are the continued influence of former communists and liberals. Its leaders argue that it has a mandate for change after decisively winning elections last year.

KOD has since organized a number of anti-government marches, and Saturday's large turnout indicated that the segment of Polish society opposed to the changes remains determined.

However, Law and Justice also remains very popular with its conservative electorate. Its supporters object to the anti-government protests that have been held over past months, accusing organizers of trying to destabilize Poland.

Read more on:    eu  |  poland

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.