About five months before Poland's general elections, all opposition parties in the country held an impressive show of force against the conservative government in Warsaw. About half a million people took part in a mass demonstration in central Warsaw to mark the 34th anniversary of Poland's first free elections after the end of the communist dictatorship, organizers said. This is the largest demonstration against the organized government since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The protesters accuse the ruling Law and Justice party, which has been in power for eight years, of responsibility for soaring inflation, corruption and the destruction of democracy. The adoption of a law in the Polish parliament to establish a committee that could prohibit candidates from being appointed to public office if they were proven to promote Russian influence in Poland led the New Center-Right Union, which initially refrained from expressing support for the demonstration, to join the other opposition centrist and left-wing parties. Protesters were brought to Warsaw in buses from all over the country.
The government called the demonstration a "hate march." Donald Tusk, leader of the main opposition Civic Platform party, who previously served as prime minister of Poland and president of the European Council, told the protesters: "When I see here today, in the center of Warsaw, the endless crowd that has come here to show its anger and also its hope, I want to say something I have not thought for a long time: the words 'this is Poland' describe the time and the place. We are here today from all of Poland, from all of Europe, from all over the world, to show that we are strong and many of us are ready to fight for democracy and a free Poland."
At Tusk's side was Lech Walesa, the legendary leader of the Solidarity workers' movement, which began the struggle against the communist regime, and who served as the first president of Free Poland.
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