AT THE head of a march of thousands in Warsaw on June 4th, Mateusz Kijowski cut a striking figure. The red jeans, ponytail and earrings of the leader of a new Polish mass movement contrasted with the sober suits of the two former presidents who flanked him. Since December, when he founded it, the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD) has turned the formerly obscure 47-year-old IT specialist into one of the most powerful figures in Polish politics. KOD is now in the vanguard of resistance to Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), filling a void left by a weak and divided political opposition.
KOD has brought large numbers of Poles onto the streets in nationwide demonstrations; exact figures are fiercely disputed. It has drawn international attention, piled pressure on the government and made Mr Kijowski reviled by PiS supporters. And it has become a conduit for anger at abuse of the rule of law. Since taking power last year, PiS has tried to reorganise Poland’s constitutional court, seized direct control of the state broadcasting channels and the security services, and purged the bosses of state-owned companies. The European Union is reviewing whether its moves violate EU statutes. “We want to have a government that respects the law,” says Mr Kijowski. “We are not fighting against the result of the election, we are fighting against a government that breaks the constitution.”
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