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March of Independence right-wing Warsaw Commentary Poland

The scale of Poland’s March of Independence is what annoys the left the most

Those who belong to Poland’s liberal-left are trying to block the annual March of Independence because they are envious of its popularity compared to their own public manifestations, writes Jacek Karnowski

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Jacek Karnowski

This has become an annual ritual: as the annual March of Independence on Nov. 11 approaches to commemorate Poland regaining independence in 1918, the left is trying to block it in court. Beautiful slogans about freedom, democracy, tolerance, and diversity turn out to be merely a political weapon, not a cohesive or consistent approach.

Formally, Warsaw’s authorities and its allies claim that they do not want “fascist” symbols to be displayed on the capital’s streets — but this is an empty accusation. Even if such symbols are shown, 99 percent of march participants are ordinary Poles who want to show their patriotism through attendance. This is clear for anyone interested in reality.

In my opinion, the desperation with which Warsaw’s authorities and a large part of the opposition (especially from under the Civic Platform banner) are fighting the March of Independence also stems from non-ideological sources. It is pure envy connected with the fact that the largest Polish annual public manifestation has a right-wing and patriotic tone.

This is an issue with serious consequences: compared to the March of Independence, opposition “marches of dependence” look like modest gatherings. It is hard to present them to foreign public opinion as “social uprisings in Warsaw,” i.e., a national rising which cannot be silenced. The March of Independence’s size dwarfs that of the opposition’s street protests.

In the sphere of “fighting for the streets,” the liberal-left opposition has certain advantages, one of which is that its voters live in large cities and are very mobile. All the opposition needs is a few metro trains from one of Warsaw’s districts and a few buses from another, and just like that, 10,000 people show up.

The right has it much worse: its electorate is scattered and more often lives in smaller towns and has more difficulty with transportation.

And yet it is the right that is able to summon impressive numbers of Poles who openly display that they still want to be Polish and want Poland to exist.

We should not be surprised that there are still attempts to stop the March of Independence. This event is an annual hard pill to swallow for the left and liberals. It reminds them that although they ruled Poland for a very long time and had many successes, they failed in their efforts to take control over the souls of Poles.