Thousands march in support of new Polish government after opposition rally | News | DW | 13.12.2015
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Thousands march in support of new Polish government after opposition rally

Supporters of Poland's ruling conservative party have marched in large numbers through the streets of Warsaw. The rallies come amid a constitutional crisis over the government's appointment of five influential judges.

The Polish capital, Warsaw, saw its second large rally in a row on Sunday, with pro-government supporters taking to the streets in response to an opposition protest the previous day.

Police estimated that some 35,000 attended the march, which was led by the head of the ruling eurosceptic Law and Justice party (PiS), Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Some 50,000 were estimated to have turned out to Saturday's rally, which was held in protest at the new government's appointment of five judges to the 15-member Constitutional Tribunal, which has the power to block or pass legislation.

Sharp divisions

The controversy reflects the longstanding conflict between the opposition center-right Civic Platform (PO) party and its rival PiS, which won an outright majority in October elections. Poland also has a PiS-backed president, Andrzej Duda, who took office this year.

The PO has called the appointment of the judges illegal, saying it constitutes a bid by the PiS to gain control of the court to implement the government's highly conservative agenda.

Polen Jaroslaw Kaczynski PIS

Kaczynski says he is aiming for a wide reform of Poland, but is being blocked by the opposition

The PiS, in its turn, says the judges needed to be replaced to redress the balance of power on the tribunal, which it said was loaded in favor of the previous liberal government.

Conservative plans

"We want a good tribunal, one that will really protect the constitution, not like the one we have today," Kaczynski said at the rally,

"We must reorganize Poland and it must be a huge reorganization," he continued. "But we are denied that right today, even though we won the election."

The government's flagship policy plans, which may depend on a compliant Constitutional Tribunal to pass, include overhauling the retirement system and curbing the foreign ownership of banks.

Sunday's long-planned rally took place on the 34th anniversary of the imposition of martial law by Poland's then-communist authorities in a crackdown on the pro-democracy Solidarity trade union.

tj/jm (Reuters, AP)

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