Polish leaders, nationalists to join in march
WARSAW, Poland — The Polish government and the organizers of a yearly march organized by nationalist groups have agreed to hold a joint march on the 100th anniversary of Poland’s rebirth as a state on Sunday.
The announcement late Friday means President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and other state officials will march in the capital with groups whose Nov. 11 march last year included racist banners and white supremacist symbols.
Michal Dworczyk, the head of Morawiecki’s chancellery, tweeted that both sides reached an agreement, adding: “Poland won. On Nov. 11 there will be a great communal march to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Independence!”
The deal was also announced by the top march organizer, Robert Bakiewicz. He is a leader of the National Radical Camp, which traces its roots to an anti-Semitic movement of the 1930s.
The development underscores how the ruling Law and Justice party has at times sought to embrace the same base that supports far-right groups. It’s a source of controversy in Poland, where many are furious at how radical nationalists came to dominate the Independence Day holiday.
Critics accuse the governing authorities of pandering to the nationalists.
Duda said he wants the participants to walk “under white-andred flags, under our national colors, under the motto of a free and independent Poland.”
The president told Poland’s Nasz Dziennik newspaper he wants all the participating groups to leave their individual emblems and banners expressing their particular point of view behind.
Earlier this year, Bakiewicz led a protest in front of Duda’s palace during which he called Jews a “fifth column,” an expression implying disloyalty to Poland.
Last year’s march in Warsaw was cited in a recent European Parliament resolution that called for member states to act decisively against far-right extremism. It noted the presence at that march of xenophobic banners with slogans such as “white Europe of brotherly nations,” and flags depicting the “falanga,” a far-right symbol dating to the 1930s.