How Law and Justice Stays Popular in Poland

Polish Law and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczyński gives a speech in Białystok, October 23, 2015
Polish Law and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczyński gives a speech in Białystok, October 23, 2015 (PiS)

Remi Adekoya explains in Foreign Affairs how Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has been able to remain popular despite truncating democratic norms and institutions and antagonizing the EU:

  • It has raised social spending, specifically for poor rural families with children.
  • It portrays its domestic opponents as corrupt elites fighting to preserve their influence.
  • It portrays its European critics as fanatical multiculturalists and militant secularists who are so obsessed with political correctness they have lost all sense of self-preservation. Read more

Poland’s Law and Justice Party Finally Went Too Far

Polish prime minister Beata Szydło and Law and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczyński attend a remembrance ceremony for the 2010 airline crash near Smolensk, April 10
Polish prime minister Beata Szydło and Law and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczyński attend a remembrance ceremony for the 2010 airline crash near Smolensk, April 10 (PiS)

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party backed away from controversial press reforms on Tuesday after several nights of street demonstrations in the capital Warsaw.

The concession is a rare victory for the liberal-minded opposition, which has otherwise been unable to stop Law and Justice from reversing the last twenty years of Poland’s democratization and liberalization. Read more

Poland Ignores Expert Advice to Shoot Itself in the Foot

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán greets his Polish counterpart, Beata Szydło, in Prague, June 8
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán greets his Polish counterpart, Beata Szydło, in Prague, June 8 (PiS)

Poland’s ruling conservatives have vowed to abandon the free-market approach of their liberal predecessors in favor of a more paternalistic economic program that experts warn will weigh down on growth.

In an interview with the Rzeczpospolita newspaper that was published under the headline “Farewell to Neoliberalism,” Prime Minister Beata Szydło’s deputy, Mateusz Morawiecki, said that economic policy should “serve citizens, employees, entrepreneurs and Polish families, and not statistics, numbers and percentages.”

The problem, argued Morawiecki — an economist who ran Santander’s Polish banking operation for eight years — is that the country has “to a huge extent” become dependent on foreigners. Read more

Polish Reforms Endanger Rule of Law: Commission

Frans Timmermans, first vice president of the European Commission, listens as Prime Minister Beata Szydło of Poland answers a question from a reporter in Warsaw, May 24
Frans Timmermans, first vice president of the European Commission, listens as Prime Minister Beata Szydło of Poland answers a question from a reporter in Warsaw, May 24 (KPRM)

The European Commission has formally censured Poland’s government for endangering the rule of law.

In an opinion published on Wednesday, the EU executive says that constitutional reforms enacted by the right-wing Law and Justice party since it came to power last year are anti-democratic.

It is the first time in EU history that the commission has slapped a member state on the wrist for undermining democracy. Read more

Poland Warned Policies Will Damage Economy

The skyline of Warsaw, Poland, May 28, 2015
The skyline of Warsaw, Poland, May 28, 2015 (Kamil Porembiński)

Poland’s illiberal turn under the nationalist Law and Justice party is starting to damage the country’s economic prospects.

This weekend, the Moody’s ratings agency, which assesses the creditworthiness of states, switched Poland’s outlook to negative, blaming higher deficit spending and unpredictable public policy.

The International Monetary Fund agreed, warning that “downside risks” to the economy — Central Europe’s largest — have “intensified” in recent months.

Moody’s still considers Poland a reasonably safe investment. Its economy is diversified and has kept growing despite the upheavals in the neighboring eurozone. For a decade, it was the best-performing economy in the EU.

But the trend has been going the other way since Law and Justice returned to power last year. Read more

Poland’s Government Steps Up Battle with Court

Polish prime minister Beata Szydło speaks with members of her cabinet in parliament in Warsaw, January 29
Polish prime minister Beata Szydło speaks with members of her cabinet in parliament in Warsaw, January 29 (PiS)

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party shows no sign of backing down in the face of growing unease about its power grabs both within the country and across Europe.

The conservatives, who returned to power in October, escalated their standoff with the Constitutional Tribunal this week by nominating another judge to the panel.

The court already has eighteen judges approved by the current legislature and the last — three more than there are seats. Read more

Poland’s Constitutional Crisis Deepens

Poles demonstrate against the government in Warsaw, February 27
Poles demonstrate against the government in Warsaw, February 27 (Jaap Arriens)

Poland’s constitutional crisis deepened on Wednesday when the country’s highest court rejected a series of changes to the way it operates.

The ruling conservative Law and Justice party immediately said it would not accept the court’s decision.

“It is hard to recognize that the hearing by the tribunal will be binding as it is not taking place according to the rules as determined by the current law,” argues Prime Minister Beata Szydło.

But it’s exactly the law her party rushed through parliament late last year that the court contests. Read more