Try unlimited access
Try full digital access and see why over 1 million readers subscribe to the FT
$1 for 4 weeks
Explore our subscriptions
Find the plan that suits you best.
Premium access for businesses and educational institutions.
A massive pro-democracy demonstration is being held today in Warsaw, protesting the ruling Law & Justice party’s efforts to assert greater control over the Polish media and judiciary. This protest, organized by the country’s main opposition movement, is the biggest of its kind since Poland transitioned from communism to a free market economy in 1989.
The demonstration is being led by the Civic Platform, supported by other opposition parties and a broad coalition of civic organizations. Tens of thousands of demonstrators have gathered in Warsaw’s Constitution Square, wielding placards bearing slogans such as “Stand Up For Democracy” and chanting “Free press, free courts”.
The Law & Justice party, which came to power in a landslide election victory last October, has been pushing to increase government influence over the media and the judiciary. This has triggered criticism from the European Union, which has warned Poland that it must adhere to democratic standards and ensure an independent judiciary.
The demonstration is also a response to a series of controversial government initiatives in recent months, including a first draft of a new media law which would force public media outlets to be more submissi to government pressure.
The Civic Platform’s leader, Grzegorz Schetyna, is also reportedly among the protesters and has urged the coalition of demonstrators to hold a “yellow card” warning against changes designed to diminish Poland’s democratic standards.
“We are here because we have to defend our freedom, our laws, our constitution!” Schetyna said.
The huge show of support for democracy in the Polish capital has also caught the eye of the international community. From Brussels to Washington, leaders have voiced support for the protest and the cause it stands for.
The Civic Platform and its allies may yet succeed in picking up help from the European Union in their battle against the ruling party’s plans. The Commission has already ruled that aspects of the media law are illegal and has threatened legal action.
Whether or not they are successful, the pro-democracy movement’s voice is loud and clear today in Warsaw.