Opinion: Pro-EU Poles show strength at anti-PIS demo | Opinion | DW | 08.05.2016
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Opinion: Pro-EU Poles show strength at anti-PIS demo

In Warsaw, 200,000 - or more - people have marched against the national-conservative government's policies. A majority of Poles still support the regime, but DW's Bartosz Dudek believes that this might change.

This weekend, Poland's capital was again the scene of mass protests against Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) regime. Some estimates put the numbers of participants at more than 200,000. That would make it the biggest demonstration against the government since it took office in October.

That is undoubtedly a success for the opposition, especially the liberal Civic Platform led by former Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna. It is also apparent that a segment of society well-represented in Poland's bigger cities is not willing to accept Kaczynski's style of government.


DW's Bartosz Dudek

The big demonstration should not, however, blind people to the fact that Kaczynski and his entourage are still firmly in control. Kaczynski continues to enjoy great popularity, primarily among poorer and more rural populations. If the opinion polls are to be believed, the PiS would still win an election today.

The reason for this is, above all, the recently introduced child benefit payment, which provides significant financial support to many poorer families. Never mind the paralysis of the Constitutional Tribunal or the transformation of public media into a state broadcaster: It seems that social benefits are more important to impoverished voters.

Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators on the streets is not a good omen for Kaczynski and his party. If, as has been the case so far, the prime minister is not prepared to approach the opposition and make compromises, the protests will increase, and that will eventually become apparent in the opinion polls. But there's a long way to go before that happens.

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