More than 100 people, most of them Poles, protested before the embassy of their country in Bucharest on Friday evening, 30 October. At that time, Warsaw saw more than 100,000 people demonstrating against the Constitutional Court’s decision that prohibited abortion on the grounds of fetal defects.
The Poles appear to be a nation which is unable to accept indefinite authoritarian action by politicians who are detached from reality. The changes in the Eastern bloc started there in the 80s and perhaps a resistance to today’s neoconservative-neoliberal consensus in Eastern Europe could be beginning there, too.
Just a few months ago, in a close second round, Poles elected the presidential candidate of the feared Catholic fundamentalist party Law and Justice Andrzej Duda.
He is the face, but the authoritarian party behind him is under the command of the notorious Jaroslaw Kaczynski. In the moment when Kaczynski was forced to pay his dues to the conservative religious forces that helped his party win, a curious turning point took place. Immediately after the Constitutional Court, dominated by the marionettes of the Law and Justice party, decided that it is unconstitutional to perform an abortion on the basis of congenital defects, thousands of young Poles poured onto the streets.
Are democratically elected leaders allowed to do whatever they want? I would say that is a flawed line of thinking. Contemporary societies have never been so polarised. It is because politicians are incredibly cynical and irresponsible. They can’t learn a simple lesson of democracy: They are not in power only on behalf of those who have voted for them. They are there in order to negotiate between the interests of those who have voted for them and others in the name of social peace. The ideas that “the winner takes it all” and “Shut up, because we are now in power!” demonstrate a complete lack of perspective and vision of these leaders.
To imagine that if you have won elections with a tiny majority and then to abuse the 48% who have not voted for you shows the incapability of contemporary societies to produce responsible elites who really deserve to be in the control room of the state.
The Bucharest protests were initiated by Ana Ovcaric – a Polish woman, living in Bucharest for the last seven years. She didn’t have history in activism, but her government’s actions made her realise she must react and organise other people to do the same. Last Sunday she gave an interview to the Barricade in English:
Ania Kociucka – a Polish student in Bucharest on an Erasmus programme, joined forces with Ana Ovcaric for the second Bucharest protest, which took place on 30 October 2020.
The Barricade made a live stream from the protest and its reporter Maria Cernat approached Ana Ovcaric, Ania Kociucka, and other protesters, wanting to hear what they think about the situation in Poland.
Photo: Posters from the protest before the Polish embassy in Bucharest, 30 October 2020 (source: Maria Cernat)
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