Polish Voters Take to the Streets of Warsaw to Support Consolidated Pro-European Opposition
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at an opposition rally in Warsaw on Sunday, just two weeks before the elections scheduled for October 15. According to the liberal Civic Platform (PO), these elections could determine Poland's future in the European Union and its democratic status.
Public opinion polls suggest that the nationalist government of the Law and Justice party (PiS) could win the elections, but forming a majority might be challenging due to dissatisfaction with the rising cost of living and concerns about the erosion of democratic checks and balances.
The opposition hopes that the march on October 1 will be the largest in the last decade and encourage voters to participate in the elections. It has been dubbed the "March of a Million Hearts," although not that many demonstrators gathered on the streets of Warsaw. However, at least 200,000 participants were present, according to the organizers. This is evident in numerous impressive photos. Yet, the public broadcaster TVP, which, according to independent media observers, has become a mouthpiece for the government during PiS rule, cited the police, saying that about 100,000 people joined the march on Sunday.
Donald Tusk, the leader of the Civic Platform (PO) and former president of the European Council, insisted that there were over a million participants. "Big changes are approaching. It's a sign of Poland's revival," said Donald Tusk to the crowd gathered in Warsaw's central square, where many people waved Polish and EU flags.
Tusk suggested that PiS might seek to take Poland out of the EU, although the Law and Justice party itself denies this. Tusk also called the elections crucial for minority rights and women's rights.
Rafal Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw and a prominent member of Poland's political opposition, urged Poles to join the march to demonstrate their belief in victory in the upcoming general elections. "We invite everyone to the 'March of a Million Hearts' next Sunday. We want to show full mobilization; we want to show our belief in victory. Let's be together in Warsaw on that day," he said the day before.
PiS, in power since 2015, campaigned on a promise to prevent migrants from entering Poland, insisting that this is a key element for national security, and pledged to continue directing money to families and the elderly.
The Civic Platform hopes that the march will have a similar effect to the one in June, during which approximately half a million people took to the streets of the capital, boosting support for the opposition and providing a serious start to the campaign.