The protests here have not calmed down since Friday. They’re applying constant pressure, from outside and within the halls of power in Warsaw, putting the leadership of the ruling, right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS) against the ropes.
In Krakow, a few protesters gathered at the entrance to the Wawel Castle, the symbol of the Polish nation, where every month the PiS Chair Jaroslaw Kaczynski places flowers on the crypt where lies his brother Lech, who died during the Smolensk plane crash.
The spark that ignited the protest was a measure that seeks to limit the access of journalists to the local Sejm, the lower house of the Polish Parliament. And it is there in front of the parliament building where, despite the frost, protesters continue to block access to the palace. The core group of demonstrators is represented by the militants of the Committee for the Defence of Democracy, or KOD.
“We will continue to take to the streets until they cease destroying our country,” said the group’s leader, Mateusz Kijowski.
This indefinite protest also involved a dozen opposition figures, who staged a sit-in inside the building, occupying night and day the halls of parliament. The KOD activists then led the protest to the seat of the Constitutional Tribunal in a symbolic day which coincides with the end of the term of the court’s president, Andrzej Rzeplinski. For over a year, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal has been paralyzed by an institutional conflict unleashed by the PiS, which continues to refuse to print the judgments of the court.
That crisis remains unresolved despite constant reprimands from the Venice Commission and the European Union to the Polish government. With the end of Rzeplinski’s term, PiS will have no more impediments: It won’t have to worry about re-integrating the three elected members of the court during the previous government by the formation of the center-right Civic Platform (PO) of the President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
Certainly it was not the first major demonstration against the majority this year, but now the protest has extended to medium-sized cities such as Szczecin and Bialystok. PiS finds itself increasingly boxed into a corner.
Their response? They’ve introduced to the Sejm a new law that would limit public gatherings.
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