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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » May 7, 2008
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May Day Demos
May 7, 2008   
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May Day demonstrations, mostly organized by leftist groups, were held in cities across Poland to celebrate International Workers' Day May 1. Most demonstrations were peaceful although the march in Poznań was disrupted by right-wing activists.

Warsaw played host to the country's largest demonstration (see photo). This was organized by the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the National Trade Union Alliance and the Polish Teachers Association. More than 2,000 people showed up. SLD leader Wojciech Olejniczak addressed the gathering saying that the concerns of ordinary people were not a priority for the government and that people would like the prime minister to finally come up with some proposals to make life better for everyone.

Separate demonstrations were organized in the capital by more radical groups such as the New Left, the Communist Party of Poland, Workers' Democracy and the National Organization of the Unemployed. Demonstrations were also held in Poznań, Lublin, ŁódĽ, Płock, Białystok, Kielce, Katowice and elsewhere although few of them attracted large crowds. The Sierpień 80 Trade Union and the Polish Labor Party staged a demonstration of some 150 people outside the gates of the Budryk Coal Mine in Ornontowice in southern Poland. The protest was designed to draw attention to the miners' sit-in strike between Dec. 17 and Jan. 31, one of the largest industrial actions undertaken in recent years. Hundreds of the mine's 2,400-plus workforce spent Christmas and New Year on site, some of them remaining underground where they went on hunger strike.

The low turnout at this year's May Day celebrations, combined with the fact that many of those present were fragmented into small factions accusing each other of selling out, may be a sign that the crisis afflicting the left in Poland is deepening, many political commentators believe. Some polls indicate that no leftist party would make it into parliament were an election to be held now.
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