WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland marks 30 years on Tuesday since its first postwar democratic election, an anniversary that has become a battleground between the ruling nationalists and the liberal opposition over the legacy of communism.
The partially free vote on June 4, 1989, handed victory to a government led by the Solidarity trade union and triggered a series of events culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall that November.
City - Authorities - Poland - Festivities - Vote
But even as opposition-controlled city authorities across Poland organize public festivities to celebrate that vote, the right-wing, eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) government plans only a muted ceremony in parliament.
While hailing the end of communist rule, PiS says liberal politicians then wasted the chance to create a fairer society true to its Christian roots and conservative values.
PiS - Days - Transition - State - Institutions
PiS says more should have been done in those heady days of transition to purge state institutions of communist officials and also to shield more vulnerable Poles from the impact of tough economic reforms.
Analysts say the argument is part of a broader campaign by PiS, which swept to power in 2015, to galvanize voters from poorer, rural areas who feel left behind by decades of post-communist economic transformation.
Poles - Communist - Elites - President - Andrzej
“Poles went to vote and rejected the communist elites, entirely and spectacularly,” Polish President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, said in a recent speech. “It was a moment that should have become a turning point, but unfortunately it didn’t.”
Facing a parliamentary election in October or November, PiS remains popular in Poland, thanks to its generous welfare payouts and nationalist rhetoric.
Campaign - Month - Election - European - Parliament
One of its key campaign promises ahead of last month’s election to the European Parliament – in which PiS won most seats in Poland – was to ensure gay couples would not be able to adopt children.
“Some of the elites had decided that being Polish with its sense of piety...
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