Several hundred people who gathered today in the protest camp in front of the parliament in Warsaw took part in the debates on issues of social dialogue and the referendums. The word which one could here most often was “participation”, and the postulate – change in the Polish constitution so that it passes more decision-making power to the hands of citizens.
Today’s debates were part of a large-scale campaign for direct democracy, initiated by the non-governmental Institute of Civil Affairs. Lasting one and a half year campaign under the slogan “Citizens decide” is focused on an amendment to the regulations for grass-roots legislative initiatives. Obtaining the cooperation of the largest trade unions was possible after these have failed while trying to force the authorities to transcribe referendum on raising the retirement age. Despite collecting almost 2.5 million signatures (compared to 500 thousand demanded) parliament decided not to ask citizens about their opinion. The more government’s decisions are dictated by trends on the global market, the more it operates in contradiction to the will of the people to live with dignity and sense of economic security. The implementation of fundamental labour rights meets the need to weaken representative democracy for its participatory, direct incarnation. Alliance between grass-roots initiatives struggling to empower citizens and trade unions is natural – they are the two lines of the same front in the battle to improve the quality of life of the people.
Proposals put forward during the debates included: formulation of a special law on public participation, a mandatory referendum after a threshold of 500 thousand signatures, the replacement of the Senate by the citizens’ chamber and the introduction of social solutions in the Swiss manner like popular initiative as a tool of citizens’ law-making procedure and the possibility of calling in question by the people the decision of the parliament. The campaign of Institute for Civil Affairs is rolling. Currently a document setting out the directions in which regulations on referendums could tend towards was submitted for a public discussion. Until Sept. 25 everyone can propose his or her notes regarding the issue of direct democracy.
Friday belonged also to the Workers’ Initiative. The syndicalists’ trade union set up a tent in the protest camp and – besides delivering meetings and films screenings – campaigned for a general strike. Dozens of protesters in the camp received newspaper issued on the occasion of the Days of Protest, in which the union explains why a general strike should be conducted, confronts the myth of too demanding workers and indicates the employers as a group particularly privileged and introduces its expectations towards the results of the ongoing protests.
Workers’ Initiative also announced that the support for Days of Protest in Poland was given today by another social organization – Citizens’ Forum for Contemporary Art, which in its statement called to join the final demonstration of the Days on Saturday in Warsaw and declared participation in the anti-capitalist bloc co-organized by the Initiative together with the Anarchist Federation.
The Saturday demonstration in Warsaw starts at noon and is expected to gather even 100 thousand participants.