TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Poland on the 34th anniversary of the eastern European country’s first post-war democratic election –a march the liberal opposition billed as a test of its ability to end nearly eight years of nationalist rule later this year.
The enormous anti-government march in the capital Warsaw on Sunday was attended by citizens travelling from across the country to voice their anger at the right-wing administration, Al Jazeera reported.
Large crowds gathered in Krakow and other cities across the nation of 38 million, showing frustration with a government that critics accuse of violating the constitution and eroding fundamental rights in the country long hailed as model of peaceful and democratic change.
Crowds stretching for at least two kilometers marched with banners reading “Free, European Poland” and “European Union yes, PiS no”, referring to the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party.
Some held masks of ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski that had the word “shame” written on them. Organisers said one million people were marching, but police and city officials did not give an estimate.
Opinion polls show an election due after the summer will be closely fought, with Russia’s war in neighbouring Ukraine giving a boost to the Law and Justice government, which has emerged as a leading voice against the Kremlin in Europe.
The opposition has struggled to galvanise support despite widespread criticism at home and abroad of the PiS, which has been accused of eroding the rule of law, turning state media into a government mouthpiece, and endorsing homophobia.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s government denies subverting any democratic norms and says its aim is to protect traditional Christian values against liberal pressures from the West and to make the economy more fair.