The Polish far-right has found itself emboldened by the rightward shift in Poland’s government since 2015.
In the aftermath of the demonstrations, the Polish Minister of the Interior Mariusz Blaszczak denied there were any xenophobic slogans at the rally to a reporter, and said he approved of it.
“It was a beautiful sight,” Blaszczak said. “We are proud that so many Poles have decided to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday.”
Although party leader Jarosław Kaczynski denounced the racial overtones of the rally, he too endorsed the rally as a whole as an important display of patriotism.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, who was part of the Law and Justice Party until 2015 but is now an independent, denounced the “toxic nationalism” of the rally as well.
However, despite such statements, Barosś of the All Polish Youth said he believes Duda’s statements are limited in scope.
“Overall, I think Duda was not interested in discrediting the march as a whole,” he said. “When it comes to the entire government, I don’t think after this event on November 11 that their approach to our organization has changed in any way.”
Baroś said the statement was direct at the fascist elements in the rally whom he said the All Polish Youth condemn. Nevertheless, fascist iconography and chants of “Sieg Heil” were heard throughout the march.
The Law and Justice Party has since 2015 pursued a nationalistic agenda, and has at times sparred with European Union officials in Brussels over controversial policies. On Wednesday, the EU intensified its criticism of the party’s judicial reforms, voicing “serious concerns” over them, Reuters reports.