Upwards of 100,000 Polish demonstrators called for improved social welfare and for Prime Minister Donald Tusk to step down. But both in Poland and abroad, there are fears of the man who might succeed him.
It began in the middle of the week with 10,000 demonstrators, some of whom had camped out in tents in front of the Polish parliament building in Warsaw. Three days later, more than 100,000 had been drawn to the capital, carrying drums, pipes and banners and demanding more expansive social welfare programs.
It was the largest mass demonstration in Poland in years, brought to fruition by the Solidarność union and the OPZZ general trade union federation.
“We’re finally waking up,” yelled Solidarność director Piotr Duda at the demonstration. “An end to the robbery of the people!”
The unions want to get rid of the country’s center-right government. Parades of people in Warsaw left few doubts as to that intention. Demonstrators derided the country’s prime minister of nearly six years, Donald Tusk – images depicted him as Pinocchio, posing as Lenin, wearing a Peruvian cap, or carrying a football under an outstretched arm. “Thieves, thieves, out with the government,” demonstrators chanted. “Tusk out!”