Mass protests in Poland: PiS in trouble?

Several hundred thousand people demonstrated against the Polish government in Warsaw. The mass protest was triggered by a new law for the establishment of a commission to investigate Russian influence in the country. Critics fear the ruling PiS intends to abuse the law to exclude opposition politicians from office without a court order. Poland will elect a new parliament in autumn.

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Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

A strong civil society defends itself

For Dagens Nyheter the mass demonstrations are a positive sign:

“The real struggle for Polish democracy is of a national nature. It reminds us above all of the strength of Polish civil society. The Poles have a long history of widespread mobilisation in defence of liberal values. Many of those who took part in the protests still remember the fall of communism and the introduction of democracy. Now they are taking to the streets to defend it.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Perception remains divided

There are still some obstacles on the way to a change of government, Der Tagesspiegel writes:

“[Ex-presidential candidate Szymon] Holownia and other figureheads of the opposition did not accept Tusk's invitation to appear all together. ... The news on the popular radio programme Trójka said nothing about the fact that Poland was experiencing the largest rally in decades. The state TV channel TVP portrayed the 'March of Hope' as a 'March of Hate'. ... So Poland's perception of what is going on remains divided. Those who read the opposition media saw scenes of mass enthusiasm and revolt. For those who inform themselves via state broadcasters, nothing special happened, just the usual squabbling among the different camps.”

Echo24 (CZ) /

Prosperity yes, cohesion no

Echo24 bemoans the polarisation of societies in Central and Eastern Europe:

“Those who still remember all the run-down houses, rusting trains and the stench of exhaust fumes in the air cannot doubt that we are much better off economically today. But in the meantime it seems that we have somehow lost an important intangible component in the name of hope for a better future. It has been replaced by polarisation, endless zero-sum games and the great fear that the next lost election will be the last and that the victorious opponents will decimate us afterwards in various legal ways so that nothing can interfere with their continued reign.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

Spectacular outrage

The PiS leader totally miscalculated this time, writes Tygodnik Powszechny:

“It makes no difference whether 200,000 or half a million government opponents demonstrated. The law on a commission for tracking down Russian agents has provoked spectacular outrage - much more than the Constitutional Court's ruling on abortion - and has enabled Donald Tusk to go on the offensive. ... The attempted administrative exclusion of the main opposition politician is proof that Jarosław Kaczyński has lost touch with the people and overshot his mark.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Party facing an uphill battle

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says this weekend's rally may have marked a turning point:

“One weakness of the opposition so far has been its disunity. One reason for this was Tusk's claim to leadership, which not everyone agreed with. In view of the legislative attack on the strongest opposition politician, without whom a change of government would not be possible, the opposition has now closed its ranks and at the same time broadened its social base. This made Sunday's demonstration arguably the largest in the three decades of Polish democracy. If the opposition parties manage to maintain this momentum until the election, things will get very difficult for the PiS.”

Krytyka Polityczna (PL) /

Provinces losing confidence in the PiS

People all over Poland are rethinking their position, Krytyka Polityczna comments:

“The turnout was record-breaking, with people from small towns and cities flocking to Warsaw. This could be a sign that the government is out of steam and that the [opposition's] energy reserves are not confined to the loud and large metropolises but reach into the quiet provinces, which have finally had enough of the government's thieving excesses. And just as they have put their trust in the PiS in every election in recent years, they will be the ones to put a stop to its quest for a Fourth Polish Republic.”

Denik (CZ) /

Democratic Poland more important than ever

The Czech Republic must not stand by while democracy is under threat in its neighbouring country, Deník urges:

“Warsaw saw the largest anti-government protests on Sunday since those organised by Solidarność in the early 1980s. It is a good sign that the Poles are refusing to let their democracy be taken from them. Today, as war rages between free Ukraine and Putin's Russian totalitarianism, we Czechs need full democracy in Poland, a key state in supporting Kyiv, more than ever. It is the responsibility of Czech politicians, especially those from the largest ruling party, the ODS, who have a direct connection to the PiS, to work to maintain Polish democracy.”