Tens of thousands of Polish demonstrators and trade unionists have marched through Warsaw Saturday after four days of protests against Prime Minster Donald Tusk\’s center-right government.
The demonstrators threw smoke grenades and blew whistles as they marched to the historic Castle Square with banners saying, "Tusk\’s government must go," referring to Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
Saturday\’s protest reflects widespread public gloom over this year\’s sharp economic slowdown in Poland, which has been dragged down by the eurozone crisis.
Organisers of the march said about 120,000 people participated, while city authorities put the figure at 100,000.
Protesters waved flags and blew whistles as they marched through the streets of the capital.
The disillusionment has plunged the coalition government\’s popularity to its lowest level since Tusk, Poland\’s longest-serving prime minister since the fall of communism in 1989, took office in 2007.
"We want the departure of Donald Tusk. This is the only way to change social policy in Poland," Marek Lewandowski, spokesman for the Polish trade union federation Solidarity, told the AFP news agency.
The marchers complained of large-scale layoffs after economic growth slowed down to 1.9 percent of gross domestic product last year from 4.5 percent in 2011.
They demanded job security, healthcare guarantees and retirement benefits, as well as the reversal of the recent raise of the retirement age to 67 years from 60 years for women and 65 years for men.
They have the support of a majority of Poles, according to an opinion poll carried out by MillwardBrown for the Fakty news programme on Tuesday: 59 percent of respondents said they were for the demonstrations, with 31 percent against and the rest unsure.
Unions also accuse Tusk of ignoring their demands and refusing to engage in dialogue.
Poland, with a population of 38 million, is the only EU member to have maintained growth each year for two decades.
However, the economy slowed to just 0.1 percent growth in the first quarter of this year as Poland\’s main trade partner, the eurozone, struggled with recession.