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Large crowd gathers for opposition march in Warsaw ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 1, 2023 5:25 PM 2 min read
Demonstrators react as Polish opposition leader, former premier and head of the centrist Civic Coalition bloc, Donald Tusk (not pictured) addresses participants of a rally in Warsaw on October 1, 2023. (Photo by Wojtek Radwanski/AFP via Getty Images)
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The streets of Poland's capital Warsaw were filled with demonstrators on Oct. 1 for an opposition rally ahead of country's upcoming parliamentary election set to be held on Oct. 15.

The protesters, who came from all over the country to participate in the demonstration dubbed 'March of a Million Hearts', was led by opposition leader and former prime minister Donald Tusk against Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Photos circulated on social media showed huge crowds, and Tusk claimed that nearly a million people were in attendance, according to comments that Reuters reported on.

The PiS, who have been in power since 2015, are seeking a record third term. The main opposition party, the Civic Platform (PO), headed by Tusk, has framed itself as a defender of democratic values and of Poland's place in the EU.

Throughout the campaign, Tusk has claimed that PiS may seek for Poland to leave the EU if re-elected, a charge that the party denies.

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Poland has been one of the most consistent supporters of Ukraine in the EU. According to the Polish Defense Ministry, the country's military aid for Ukraine amounted to 3 billion euro ($3.2 billion) by July. This support included a wide range of weaponry from MiG-29 jets and tanks to armored vehicles and artillery.

This support came into question in Sept. 2023, amidst a dispute between Poland and Ukraine about the export of grain. As tensions rose, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on Sept. 20 that Warsaw would cease further arms shipments to Ukraine, a statement that the Polish Foreign Ministry said the following day was made without their consultation. The ministry clarified that the remarks had been misconstrued, and that arms shipments would continue for now.

In response, Tusk pledged unwavering military support for Ukraine, stating that, "the victory of Ukraine is in the national interests of Poland for sure."

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