People gather at Old Town as they take part in the march on the 34th anniversary of the first democratic elections in postwar Poland, in Warsaw, Poland, June 4, 2023. Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Wyborcza.pl via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND. (Photo: Reuters)
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of central Warsaw on Sunday in an opposition demonstration against the Polish government. According to organizers, half a million people participated in the march, making it one of the largest anti-government demonstrations in Poland in the 30 years since the fall of communism.
Lech Wałęsa, former Polish president, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of the struggle against communism, joined opposition leaders at the head of the march ahead of parliamentary elections this fall.
The protest drew demonstrators from all over Poland, responding to calls from former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who heads the opposition Civic Platform party, to demonstrate against "the cost of living, fraud and lies, and for democracy, free elections and the European Union."
Most opposition party leaders encouraged their supporters to join the march against the nationalist Law and Justice Party led by Jarosław Kaczynski. The demonstrators were covered in red and white — the colors of the Polish flag — and carried signs reading "Enough is enough" and "No to an authoritarian Poland," blaming the ruling party for the high cost of living.
Tusk, who also previously served as head of the European Council, addressed the masses, saying the opposition's role today was "of "similar importance" to that it had in the 80s and in the fight against communism.
A woman takes part in a march on the 34th anniversary of the first democratic elections in postwar Poland, in Warsaw, Poland, June 4, 2023. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel (Photo: Reuters)
Leader of main opposition party Civic Platform (PO) Donald Tusk and former Polish President and Peace Nobel Prize laureate Lech Walesa take part in the march on the 34th anniversary of the first democratic elections in postwar Poland, in Warsaw, Poland, June 4, 2023. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel (Photo: Reuters)
Walesa, who led the Solidarity Against Communism protest movement, was long absent from politics. He told the marchers that he had waited "patiently" for the day when the ruling party and its leader and Kaczynski would be ousted from power.
"Mr. Kaczynski, we came to get you. That day has finally come," Walesa said.
Today's protest was held on a symbolic date, marking the 34th anniversary of the first partial free elections held in Poland, which subsequently led to the fall of communism in Europe. Wałęsa became Poland's first democratically elected president, in 1990.
- World News
- Lech Walesa
- Donald Tusk