Democracy is in mortal danger in Poland, in part because of the failure of the opposition, says a leading analyst. Here is a government that spreads unsupported conspiracy theories, is doubling down on a vicious culture war against sexual minorities, and has been fiercely criticized by international institutions that continue to be highly popular in the country, notes YASCHA MOUNK, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, and a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund.
Why has a relatively united and professional opposition proved so powerless to orchestrate a broader majority against it? asks Mounk, the author of The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It, and contributor to the National Endowment for Democracy’s Journal of Democracy. After traveling to Poland a few weeks ago, I came away with three overlapping explanations, he writes for the Atlantic:
- Why do these elections matter? Orban returned to power in 2010 after an earlier four-year stint and proceeded to build a regime that concentrated power to a degree unprecedented in the European Union. That prompted the bloc to launch a probe over Hungary’s erosion of the rule of law. Orban’s avowedly “illiberal” politics meld nationalism, cultural conservatism and a powerful central government. …
Similarly, in Poland…..
Law and Justice seems certain to emerge as the biggest party from Sunday’s poll. However, Poland’s electoral system means that, depending on how many parties make it into parliament, it could still end up short of a majority, the FT’s James Shotter and Agata Majos report from Wlodawa:
This leaves a faint possibility that a broad — though probably unstable — coalition of opposition parties could club together to try and form a government. Mobilisation will be key for all parties, and Mr Kaczynski has taken to finishing rallies by imploring his supporters not just to vote, but to persuade their friends to do so too….The most likely outcome, however, remains that the 70-year-old Mr Kaczynski will be given the chance to continue his crusade to reshape Poland.
“It’s not a done deal,” says Aleks Szczerbiak, professor of politics at the University of Sussex. “It really does matter whether Law and Justice gets an overall majority. Because if it doesn’t there is a serious chance that there could be an alternative government formed.”
“If PiS wins the election, they will … finish the capture of the courts and, most importantly, they will probably find some legal way to take over private media through ownership requirements. That will be pretty much the end of constitutional democracy,” according to Professor Wojciech Sadurski, author of Poland’s Constitutional Breakdown.*
“Maybe it’s a bit exaggerated but when we look at Orban’s Hungary we are going more or less in the same direction,” says Anna Materska-Sosnowska, a political scientist at the University of Warsaw. “A central state providing care from birth . . . to retirement . . . But also a state that controls how you are supposed to live, with whom you are supposed to live, and what should be the model of your family.”