July 22, 2017
Bogdan Klich looked on as hundreds of protesters confronted a long line of impassive police officers ringing the Polish parliament. It was early Friday morning, not long after midnight, and Klich seemed a man in his element.
It wasn’t the first time the 57-year-old minority leader of the Polish senate had taken on his government. Klich led student strikes in 1980 and joined the underground opposing communist martial law later that decade. What he hadn’t expected was having to return to the streets again, 27 years after Poland’s break with communism.
“I always felt Polish democracy was based on strong foundations, and that no one would try to overturn that,” he said, as a small group of demonstrators called him over, worried the police might try to remove them. “I was wrong,” he said.
Hours earlier, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Warsaw and other Polish cities to protest the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s effort to impose tighter political controls over the judicial system. The lower house of parliament, where PiS has a majority, adopted a law Thursday that would force all Supreme Court judges into retirement except those selected by the justice minister.