IDM Short Insights 28: March of a Million Hearts

Hundreds of thousands of Poles marched through the streets of Poland’s capital in a ‚March of a Million Hearts‘ on 1 October 2023. The event was initiated by Donald Tusk, currently the leader of the largest opposition party Civiv Platform, to mobilise opposition voters ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections. However, not all opposition parties joined. In the newest Short Insight, Malwina Talik (IDM), who observed it in Warsaw, explains the magnitude and role of this mass gathering in the ongoing election campaign and analyzes what impact it may have on the election results on 15 October 2023.


I am in Warsaw in Poland where hundreds of thousands of people from all across the country, not only from the capital, came today to join the “March of a Million hearts”. This is already the second rally of this type. The first one took place in June and back then it was meant as a protest against the so-called “Lex Tusk”. It was a proposal made by the Law and Justice party, which, if implemented, would have hindered Donal Tusk from running in the parliamentary elections. The outrage was huge and up to half a million people came to Warsaw back then to show that they disagree with such policies. The number (of demonstrators) was so huge that it surpassed the expectations of the organisers and they decided to use this mobilisation and organise another march and that’s the one that is taking place today. But what it is all about today? Donald Tusk, when asked in an interview, what are the rules of this march, this rally, said that the rules are simple, if you love Poland, come and join us in Warsaw. He indirectly referred to the fact that Poles who oppose the Law and Justice party are labelled as “fake Poles”, “Poles of the worst sort”, so this rally is very much about demonstrating that these Poles also have Poland in their hearts. This is also a new slogan of the Civic Platform, Civic Coalition, a coalition led by Donald Tusk. But this rally goes also beyond reclaiming the public space, public discourse on patriotism. The goal is actually to mobilise voters, especially those undecided voters, two weeks before parliamentary elections. You may ask yourself if a rally can change the results of the elections, of this campaign. Some say that not necessarily, that it can actually disadvantage smaller parties, smaller opposition parties because their voters would turn to the Civic Coalition and some of the smaller parties will be even at risk of not joining the Sejm. However, if we consider how many undecided voters are still there and if they decide to cast a vote, most of them are women, most of them oppose the Law and Justice party, this could still change the electoral result.
And this is who the fight is now about. In two weeks we will know if this rally has borne fruits and made a change or if Law and Justice wins the unprecedented third term.