Poland: tens of thousands of pro-EU protesters take to the streets

They held up the star-spangled banner. Tens of thousands of Poles demonstrated on Sunday evening, October 10, to defend their country’s membership of the European Union, after a decision Friday by the Polish Constitutional Court challenging the primacy of European law. This decision, refusing any European control over Polish laws, could mark a first step towards Poland’s exit from the EU.

It is against this idea of ​​a “Polexit” that the Poles have mobilized, at the call of the leader of the opposition and former President of the European Council Donald Tusk. “Tens of thousands of people in Warsaw and in more than 100 towns and villages in Poland came to protest against what this government is doing to our homeland”, launched Donald Tusk to a huge crowd armed with European blue flags in the capital.

Earlier today, he called on his countrymen to “defend a European Poland”. “We have to save Poland, no one will do it for us”, he added on Twitter. “I am here because I am afraid that we are leaving the EU. It is very important, especially for my granddaughter”said Elzbieta Morawska, 64, who was parading in Warsaw.

“The UK has just left the EU and it is a tragedy. If Poland leaves now, it will also be a tragedy”, estimated 20-year-old Aleksander Winiarski, who studies in England and is also demonstrating in the capital. Poland and other countries of Central and Eastern Europe joined the European Union in 2004, 15 years after the overthrow of the Communist regime.

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Membership of the Union remains very popular, according to the polls, but relations between Warsaw and Brussels have become markedly strained since the populist Law and Justice party came to power in 2015. The clashes relate in particular to the reforms of the judicial system wanted by the government, and which the EU considers will undermine the independence of the judiciary and risk leading to a reduction in democratic freedoms.

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