Socialist Worker

Fascist-led march in Poland is smallest in years as abortion protests continue

by Andy Zebrowski
Issue No. 2731

Pro-abortion protest in Warsaw in October

Pro-abortion protest in Warsaw in October (Pic: Wikimedia/ Jakub Zabinski)


This year’s fascist-led Independence March was a flop! 

For years, the 11 November march has attracted tens of thousands of people. But Wednesday saw only thousands on the streets of Warsaw—the smallest march in ten years.

This year the organisers realised that they would not be able to attract as big a turnout as before.

So they said the march would this year take the form of a cavalcade of cars, motorbikes and bicycles.

They claimed that this was because of the coronavirus. This was a lie—behind the scenes, they were busy inviting supporters to come to Warsaw by train and take part in the march on foot.

Why was the march so much smaller this year?

The widespread mass women's demonstrations of the last three weeks have undermined support for the far right. According to one poll in September, the Confederacy—a coalition of fascists and extreme neoliberals—had 8.2 percent support.

At the beginning of November, it was only 4.4 percent.

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Since 22 October streets all over the country, in even the smallest towns, have been taken over by abortion rights protesters.

Altogether the protests number hundreds of thousands of people. These demonstrations followed an outrageous decision by the rigged Constitutional Tribunal. It means that women have to give birth even in cases where the foetus has severe defects.

In order to come into force, the prime minister has to publish the ruling, which still hasn't been done. The deadline was 2 November.

This is in itself a victory. The government is clearly afraid of fuelling further huge protests.

But people are aware that the government can break its own rules, as it has done in the past, and may ignore the deadline.

Some hospital administrators have already tightened up abortion restrictions while some have said that they will only do so if the ruling comes into force.

The outrage has not abated. The demonstrations are continuing and can still attract thousands of people. In Warsaw on Monday protesters blocked one of the busiest roads in the city after a woman was arrested.

The connection between the women's protests and anti-fascism is becoming increasingly clear.

Antifascist 

The extreme right wants the abortion law to be made as harsh as possible. Anti-fascist slogans are common on demonstrations.

Since the right wing PiS part came to office fascists have been portrayed as patriotic enthusiasts in the state media. But fascists physically attack the abortion rights protesters.

Now hundreds of thousands of pro-choice demonstrators, and millions more at home, have seen the true woman-hating face of the extreme right.

The fascists of the newly formed National Guard are among those who have attacked the women's protests. This fascist combat outfit was created by Robert Bakiewicz who is also the main organiser and spokesperson for the Independence March.

On 11 November the extreme right wanted to rebuild its strength. But its "prestigious" march was a brutal fiasco.

The marching thugs were either directly members of fascist organisations or football fans linked to them. They were frustrated by the numerical weakness of the march and ran amok.

An apartment in Warsaw was set on fire by fascists. They threw flares because a “Women’s strike” banner and an LGBT+ rainbow flag were hanging from a balcony above.

The march ended in violent clashes between marchers and the police who used rubber bullets and batons to disperse them.

Police could have prevented the march from starting since it had been declared illegal by two court decisions.

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They didn't, because for five years the PiS government has been the extreme right's best friend. It wants to portray itself as the leader of the whole right—from conservatives to fascists.

Two years ago the whole government and the president stood at the head of the Independence March escorted by army vehicles and soldiers.

The government has encouraged the fascists for five years. They will carry on doing so but this year their strategy failed miserably.

We need to stress two things about the fascist march.

First, the brutality of the fascists shows they pose a real threat. We need to oppose them whenever we can. Second, we have seen that they can be undermined by mass protests, sometimes over other issues.

The huge reduction in their numbers on 11 November will convince many more people that they can be beaten.

Our small organisation has given out thousands of leaflets and sold hundreds of papers on the Women's protests. People have used the front page as a placard.

It says: "We want choice, not terror! Abortion on demand!"

Andy Zebrowski is a member of Pracownicza Demokracja (Workers Democracy), the sister organisation of the SWP in Poland.

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