sierakowski67_JANEK SKARZYNSKIAFP via Getty Images_poland abortion protest Janek Skarzynski/AFP via Getty Images

Will Women Defeat Poland’s Illiberal Regime?

After weeks of watching massive peaceful demonstrations against neighboring Belarus's authoritarian regime, Poles have finally taken to the streets to confront their own illiberal government. As in Belarus, Poland's de facto ruler, Jarosław Kaczyński has overplayed his hand – and women have been the first to smack it away.

WARSAW – Authoritarian political leaders in neighboring Poland and Belarus have tested the limits of public tolerance in recent months. In both countries, they have provoked mass demonstrations. And in both cases, women have been in the front ranks of popular opposition.

In a rigged election on August 9, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko gave himself 80% of the vote when a more plausible 55% would have sufficed. Poles followed the events in Belarus closely and with admiration, hoping for similar mass opposition to the increasingly despotic Law and Justice (PiS) government.

Then, on October 22, with COVID-19 infections rising exponentially, Poland’s de facto ruler, PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński, effectively dared Polish citizens to take to the streets. Having stacked the country’s Constitutional Tribunal with PiS lackeys, Kaczyński ordered the court to issue a ruling all but banning abortion.

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