Political Unrest Grips Poland: Mass Demonstrations Erupt as New Prime Minister Donald Tusk Assumes Office

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Poland’s recently elected pro-EU Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, is already facing significant opposition, with an estimated 300,000 people protesting against his government’s media policies only two months into his term. The protests escalated into a peaceful march to Tusk’s office in Warsaw, further highlighting the deep political divide in the country.

President Pardons Controversial Figures

Adding fuel to the fire, the country’s incumbent President, Andrzej Duda, aligned with the right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS) which was ousted from power in the last election, has pardoned two PiS-affiliated politicians. This move has further inflamed tensions and drawn criticism from various quarters, including former Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and MEP Beata Szydlo.

Accusations of Authoritarian Practices

Critics accuse Tusk’s administration of authoritarian practices, such as jailing political opponents and taking control of state media. The Tusk-led alliance has been involved in controversies, including the shutting down of state TV, news agency, and radio, leading to claims of political prisoners. However, in response to the protests, Tusk vowed to restore legal order and public decency, as per a post he made on social media.

Implications for Poland’s Democracy

This situation raises concerns about the country’s democratic principles, especially with local and European elections looming on the horizon. The differences between the new government and the head of state have led to open conflict in a turbulent first few weeks of ‘cohabitation’. The unfolding chaos at home coincides with President Duda’s trip to the Swiss Alps for the Davos meet, testing the revival of investor confidence. The new pro-European government faces resistance from President Duda and the PiS party’s supporters, leading to confusion in Poland’s judicial system.