The recent demonstration in Warsaw was not a protest against NATO

By: Emmi Kivi
October 10 2023

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The recent demonstration in Warsaw was not a protest against NATO

Screenshots of X posts by former British MP George Galloway falsely claiming that a recent march in Warsaw was a protest against NATO.


The Verdict Misleading

The Warsaw demonstration was not a protest against NATO. It was a rally by the Polish opposition to galvanize supporters ahead of the elections.

Claim ID 0a005b64

The context

Former British MP George Galloway claims that a recent demonstration in Warsaw was a protest against NATO. Galloway argues that the Central and Eastern European states are increasingly dissatisfied with the Alliance with the post caption: “People are comprehensively rejecting Nato’s sacrificing of their own interests and prosperity.” The early October demonstration in Warsaw, Poland, was provided as an example of the discontent.

However, the demonstration in Warsaw was not an anti-NATO protest. It was a rally against the ruling government held by the Polish opposition coalition to galvanize voters before the parliamentary elections on October 15.

In fact

Led by the Civic Platform party, the Polish opposition coalition organized the “March of Million Hearts” on October 1 to protest against the policies of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. It was the largest rally ever recorded in the capital; according to the authorities of the city of Warsaw, around 1 million attended the demonstration.

The rally took place two weeks before the upcoming parliamentary elections. After a fierce campaign, the opinion polls suggest that the ruling PiS may win, but they could face challenges in securing a majority. The gap between PiS and the Civic Platform has narrowed since the last parliamentary elections in 2019 due to the growing cost of living and worries about weakening democratic safeguards.

In an interview for Polityka, the leader of the Civic Platform, Donald Tusk, commented on the purposes of the march: “On October 1, everyone must see that all of Poland is going, that the elections are a clash between Poland and PiS.” The Civic Platform has stated that the election may decide the future of the country and its democratic standing. Tusk called for supporters: “All those who want a better Poland will show up. Someone will say it’s a slogan, but everyone with Poland in their hearts should want to show that they believe and have the strength.”

According to Polish broadcaster TVN, the demonstration attendees expressed dissatisfaction towards the government, for instance, regarding the block on EU funds, limitations of civil freedoms, and spreading division and hostility in society. Demonstrators were also carrying banners saying “PiSexit,” referring to the exit of PiS, or “The cat can stay,” alluding to the cat of the PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński.

Poland became a full member of NATO on March 12, 1999. The country’s support for NATO membership is among the highest in the Alliance. Before the 2022 NATO Summit in Madrid, according to a NATO-commissioned survey across all its 30 member states, 90 percent of Polish respondents would vote for their country to stay a member of NATO. Similar numbers were reported by the Polish Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS) in March 2023, with 92 percent of respondents supporting Poland’s membership in NATO. In the same survey, only 0.9 percent of respondents were against the membership.

The verdict

Poland’s support for NATO membership remains one of the highest in the Alliance. The “March of a Million Hearts” in Warsaw was not a protest against NATO, nor did participants express dissatisfaction with the Alliance. Instead, it was a rally organized by the opposition coalition to mobilize voters before the parliamentary elections, with participant accounts conveying frustration towards the government. Therefore, we marked the claim as misleading.

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