Polish Liberals Halt Month-long Parliament Sit-In Against Conservatives

WARSAW (AFP) – Poland’s liberal opposition on Thursday called an end to its unprecedented month-long occupation of parliament after the governing conservatives scrapped controversial planned media restrictions.

“Since we’ve restored the media’s presence in parliament… we’re suspending our protest,” said Grzegorz Schetyna, leader of the Civic Platform (PO) opposition party.

Parliament speaker Marek Kuchcinski for his part suspended proceedings until January 25, saying “an in-depth analysis of what happened here these last few weeks is necessary”.

PO lawmakers had been occupying parliament since mid-December after the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party announced plans to restrict journalists’ access to legislative proceedings.

In addition, the opposition then began protesting against a vote on this year’s budget which it claimed had been held “illegally” in another part of the building after their sit-in began.

Schetyna appealed to President Andrzej Duda on Thursday to not sign the budget and also called for Kuchcinski’s resignation for his hand in the parliamentary crisis.

“This marks the end of one stage and the start of another,” he told reporters.

Poland has been mired in political crisis for months.

In December, the EU gave the PiS government another two months to reverse changes it made to Poland’s constitutional court or face sanctions, warning they posed a “substantial” challenge to the rule of law.

This and the crisis in parliament come just over one year after the PiS swept to power and began pushing through legislation that critics allege undermines democracy.

Although the moves have sparked mass anti-government street protests, the PiS remains widely supported and has kept well ahead in recent opinion polls due in large part to its generous social spending schemes.


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