Is opposition to PiS government gaining strength?

240,000 people protested in Warsaw on Saturday against the national-conservative PiS government. For some commentators the demonstration is a historic mobilisation that demands a response from Europe. Others say the protests are not widely supported by the Polish people.

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Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

The PiS must be scared now

Poland's leadership has every reason to fear this historic mobilisation, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza believes:

“Never before in the Third Republic [the post-1989 democracy] have the Poles made their opposition to the state power so clear. This demonstration has not just shown that the resistance to the PiS has grown very strong. It has also demonstrated just how deeply rooted the values we fight for on the street are in society. The basis of our life is a democratic Poland in the EU, a Poland with free citizens where everyone has the same rights. ... The PiS is powerless against such a force. Almost a quarter of a million people out in protest is enough to strike fear in the heart of any politician.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Protesting Poles deserve EU reaction

The demonstrations in Poland show that the opponents to the government are willing to stand up and be counted, the Süddeutsche Zeitung believes:

“We are still here. In the midst of this major European crisis masses of people waving the blue flag with the twelve golden stars is not something to be taken for granted. The demonstrators in Warsaw have done just that, and showed that they are unwilling to let go of one of their major accomplishments: being citizens of Europe. ... The European Union is either a community of democracies and constitutional states or it is nothing at all. In its dealings with the Polish government the EU Commission must be led by this conviction. ... Hundreds of thousands of Poles have sent a message. They deserve an answer.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Mass rebellion not in sight

Lidové noviny, by contrast, doesn't believe the Polish opposition will be able to organise broad-based resistance to the government policy:

“A glance at the polls suffices to explain the appeal for broad support on the streets. Although the opposition has fought relentlessly against the government it has failed to mobilise its fellow citizens. And to the amazement of the government's opponents even critical words from abroad haven't done any good. On the contrary, every time the EU voices concern about the situation in our neighbouring country the support for the government surges. … The Poles have shown clearly in their presidential and parliamentary elections that they want fundamental change. … More important than the loyal supporters of the various camps are the broad sections of the population. We must wait and see how they assess the initial results of the reforms.”