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Feb 26, 2024

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Turbulent Polish Autumn 2020

By Robert Strybel
Warsaw Correspondent

WARSAW–The autumn of 2020 will surely go down as one of the most politically charged periods since Poland dumped Soviet-style communism in 1989. A Constitutional Court ruling effectively outlawing abortions when fetal abnormalities occur triggered an unprecedented wave of nationwide demonstrations led by radical feminists and their supporters.

For weeks on end, thousands of pro-abortion marchers streamed through towns and cities, chanting pro-feminist and anti-government slogans and daubing buildings with the radical movement’s red lightning-bolt symbol. Groups of protesters barged into churches to disrupt Holy Mass, smearing façades with often vulgar graffiti. The protests appeared to be well coordinated, as printed Women’s Strike posters simultaneously appeared on posters and anti-Coronavirus face masks across the land. The movement’s most frequently uttered byword directed at Poland’s Church and conservative government has been “wypierdalać” (f— off).

The Women’s Strike movement is demanding unrestricted abortion on demand as well as same-sex marriage and adoption rights. Strike leader leader Marta Lempart, a burly 41-year-old lesbian, openly admitted her ultimate goal was to overthrow the government. She has been regularly seen shouting obscenities at police officers and trying to whip fellow-feminists into a rebellious frenzy. Scuffles have occurred when protesters tried to break through police lines protecting public buildings and the homes of government officials. Police responded with pepper gas, detaining dozens of the most aggressive marchers.

Undaunted by the fact that the illegal demonstrations violated anti-pandemic restrictions limiting public gatherings to ten people, liberal and leftist opposition politicians have personally joined and whipped up support for the protests. Unable to come to terms with two successive parliamentary defeats (2015 and 2019), they nurtured hopes that the chaos might somehow facilitate their return to power. But within weeks, the only result of the peak demonstrations were soaring daily Covid-19 cases which topped the 27,000 mark.

The turmoil coincided with European Commission’s threats to make Covid-19 relief funds contingent on “rule of law” compliance by individual countries.  Poland, Hungary and Slovenia have protested against the move, arguing that such an arrangement violates the EU treaties signed by member nations. According to Warsaw, most any political demand can be thrown into the catch-all “rule of law” bag as defined by the leftist EU+s  authorities..

Poland has so far resisted EC pressure to accept Muslim migrants, but could face attempts to impose same-sex “marriage” and “adoption.” That in itself is a violation of the rule of law, since EU treaties state that family and moral issues are to be regulated by individual sovereign countries, not EU politicians. Warsaw has also been attacked by Brussels over its judicial reforms designed to weed out corrupt judges and de-communize Poland’s courts. Under EU the way national judiciaries are organized is the sole purview of member nations. 

The pandemic has added to the national malaise with its frustrating restrictions and disruption of normal life, casting its shadow over the Poles’ typically joyous Christmas holidays. One result has been a drop in public backing for the ruling conservative United Right to 30%, down from 36% the previous month. During the its five years in office, its support had rarely fallen below 40%.