Janek Skarzynski, AFP/Getty ImagesProtesters shout slogans during a protest on Sunday in front of the presidential palace in Warsaw.
If an illiberal government — democratically elected, but determined to change the rules — tries to do something unconstitutional, what can the public do? What can the political opposition do? This is a dilemma we now know from several countries — Russia, Venezuela, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, and possibly soon Greece. The prospects are pretty gloomy, as I’ve argued before, for those who want to stay within the bounds of the law.
One partial answer is peaceful street demonstrations, though that is a frustrating path. Most people don’t have time to stand in a crowd every day or every evening; the chants and speeches can be repetitive; and, more to the point, the government has no obligation to listen. The effort can seem pointless, and it often is — unless it can move the hearts and minds of the leaders of the ruling party. In Poland, over the past week, that’s exactly what just happened.
To briefly recap a complicated story: Poland’s nationalist government had already chalked up a series of constitutional violations and undemocratic decisions, including the politicization of public media, the army, the prosecutor’s office, the civil service and the constitutional tribunal. A few days ago, it passed three laws that would have allowed the current government to dissolve the Supreme Court, fire several dozen judges and replace them with those it preferred.
Mass demonstrations all over the country followed, every night for the past week, in all of the major cities and many small ones, too. Tens of thousands — probably hundreds of thousands — of people sang Pink Floyd, the national anthem and anti-communist protest songs from the 1980s. They stood in front of courthouses with candles. They chanted “Here is Poland,” …read more
Source:: The Denver Post