By Miguel Angel Gayo Macias
Krakow, Poland, Oct 10 (EFE).- Hundreds of thousands turned out Sunday in more than 100 cities across Poland to protest moves by the country’s right-wing government that they fear will lead to a Polish exit from the European Union.
Protesters marched to the strains of the Polish national anthem and the “Ode to Joy,” the semi-official anthem of the EU.
Politicians from virtually all parties not allied with the government took part in the nationwide mobilization.
The largest gathering was in Warsaw’s Castle Square, where tens of thousands of people listened to a speech by Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister who was president of the European Council from 2014-2019 and now leads the main opposition center-right Civic Platform.
Tusk called for the protests in response to Thursday’s ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal striking down a provision of Poland’s accession agreement with the EU that makes Polish law subordinate to EU law in cases of conflict.
The tribunal, effectively under the direction of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, was responding to a request from Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki for a review a decision by the European Court of Justice ordering the Polish government to suspend new guidelines for appointing Supreme Court justices.
Since taking power in 2015, the PiS has tried to establish a level of control over the courts that the EU sees as incompatible with the principle of judicial independence.
“A group of people dressed in judge’s gowns and on the order of the party’s leader, in violation of the Polish constitution, decided to lead our homeland out of the EU,” Tusk told the crowd in the capital.
“I am a Pole who the European countries chose seven years ago as their chief, chief of the Council of Europe, out of respect for Poland, for our difficult and beautiful path toward independence, toward Europe,” he said.
Militant nationalists created disturbances on the margins of the protest in Warsaw, while right-wing militants from Italy were among 12 people arrested a few hours before the march began.
Dismissing talk about the threat of “Polexit” as a desperate gambit by the opposition, the government says it has no intention of leaving the EU.
At the same time, however, Morawiecki proclaims the supremacy of Poland’s constitution over “any other source of law,” while President Jaroslaw Kaczynski said the EU has no business expressing opinions about the organization of the Polish judiciary.
Poland has benefited immensely from membership in the 27-nation bloc. In 2018, Warsaw was the largest net recipient of EU funds. EFE mag/dr