Tens of thousands of Poles marched in Warsaw and other cities Saturday to protest the role the country’s president and its new conservative government have had in swelling political discord.
A new group calling itself the Committee for the Defense of Democracy organized the marches and opposition parties joined in. They argue that President Andrzej Duda and the new government are breaking the constitution with the steps they are taking concerning the appointment of new judges to the Constitutional Tribunal, the nation’s top law arbiter.
Duda is an ally of the ruling conservative Law and Justice party that took power last month and is trying to place loyal judges on the Constitutional Court.
The increasingly charged clash between the government and the opposition has undermined the court’s authority. Law and Justice appears to be seeking to expose weaknesses and inconsistencies in the constitution, which it wants to change. The main opposition party, which lost power last month, seems to be pressing for some way to call an early election.
An estimated 50,000 marchers turned out in Warsaw, chanting “We will defend the constitution!” and “Duda must go!” as they walked downtown from the Constitutional Tribunal building to the Presidential Palace. Similar marches were held in Wroclaw, Lublin, Poznań and Szczecin.
The ruling party is holding a march Sunday in Warsaw to mark the 34th anniversary of martial law, which was imposed by communist authorities in opposition to Poland’s Solidarity freedom movement.