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HomeE.U.Hundreds of thousands join "March of a Million Hearts" in Warsaw

Hundreds of thousands join “March of a Million Hearts” in Warsaw

According to Donald Tusk, leader of the main opposition liberal group Civic Coalition, the 1 October rally “March of a Million Hearts” gathered more than a million people on the streets of Warsaw. However, according to the ruling party, the number of participants is around 100,000, Brussels signal reports.

The march was held to unite opposition supporters ahead of the 15 October general election. Tusk first called for the march back in July, after police began harassing hospitalised woman Joanna in Krakow. The politician expressed outrage at the treatment of women following the tightening of abortion laws. He called on all those who disagree with the current government to take to the streets of Warsaw on 1 October.

He suggested that twice as many people would turn out for this protest as for the previous Warsaw march on 4 June, which, according to the mayor’s office, drew half a million people.

However, Joanna was not invited to participate in the demonstration on 1 October and according to her, her case was used by the opposition for political purposes, according to Brussels Signal.

The number of participants in the march on 1 October is not precisely determined. CCTV footage of the city hall recorded about more than a million participants, but the opposition portal Onet.pl puts the figure at between six and eight hundred thousand. Warsaw police reported 60,000 people at the start and just over 100,000 at the peak of the march.

Tusk said the large-scale rally was a “signal of Poland’s rebirth” and that “a force that cannot be stopped” had come into being. He compared it to the hundreds of thousands of people who attended Pope John Paul II’s mass in the centre of Warsaw in 1979. It is widely considered to have been the impetus for the formation of the Solidarity movement in 1980 and Poland’s subsequent independence in 1989.

Also speaking at the opening of the march was Left Party leader Wlodzimierz Czarszasti, who called on the opposition to form a government after the elections. He also called for the government to stop funding the Catholic Church.

Representatives of the other main opposition centre-right group, the Third Way (Trzecia Droga), believe that they need to work on winning the favour of voters in smaller towns. Two of its leaders, Szymon Cholownia and Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, attended an election event in Częstochowa (southern Poland).

Sociologist Henrik Domański, a professor at the Polish Academy of Sciences, said in an interview with Brussels Signal that the opposition showed its strength through this march. However, “since this was the second such demonstration, the effect for those who were not at the march is weaker, especially since there was no real programme around which to unite”. Domański does not believe that the march was able to change attitudes towards women’s rights because the opposition treated it in an “instrumental” way.

On 1 October, the ruling Conservatives (PiS) also held a major rally for party members and supporters at a giant indoor sports hall in Katowice, the largest city in the mining and industrial region of Silesia, Brussels Signal reports.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, in a speech to party members, said that the 15 October election would determine “whether Poland would remain a sovereign country or become a province of Europe” and accused Tusk of adhering to the “German vision of Poland” as a “subordinate”.

Morawiecki said the economy was “growing and unemployment is one of the lowest in the EU” and that “against all expectations, we have managed to contain inflation without increasing unemployment.”

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