Poland drops controversial proposals after protests

Poland drops controversial proposals after protests

Poland drops controversial proposals after protests Polish President Andrzej Duda on Dec. 19 announced that the governing conservatives have scrapped controversial proposals to restrict media access in parliament that had set off an opposition outcry and street demonstrations.

But while the governing Law and Justice party (PiS) appeared to offer compromise on the media rules, a row over a budget vote deemed “illegal” by the opposition intensified.

The PiS “has abandoned its [media] proposal which triggered the row we saw in parliament... Everything has been reset,” Duda said in an interview on Poland’s TVP public broadcaster.

Senate speaker Stanislaw Karczewski, a PiS member, earlier assured journalists that the old media rules would remain in place for the time being. He said he would present new proposals by Jan. 6, 2017.

It appeared to be a victory for the political opposition and the civic activists who have staged protests since Dec. 16. It is the second time that the ruling populist PiS has stepped back from disputed measures due to street protests. In October, the party also withdrew a plan for a total abortion ban after huge numbers of women dressed in black protested across the country.

Duda called on opposition lawmakers, who have been occupying parliament since Dec. 16, to “offer a goodwill gesture” and cease their protest.

“I’m calling for just a little reflection and calm, because this is an important domestic issue. Plus the holiday season is upon us and Poles are concerned by the situation. I want the problem resolved,” he said.

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets since Dec. 16 in Warsaw and other parts of the country in the latest action against PiS moves deemed anti-democratic by its opponents.

Thousands of people - grouped in a popular movement called the Committee for the Defense of Democracy - rallied outside parliament in support of the opposition MPs until late Dec. 18.

A smaller pro-government rally took place outside the presidential palace.