The new politics of Poland

A case of post-traumatic sovereignty

Jarosław Kuisz
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For many Western observers, the electoral success of Poland’s populist right-wing party Law and Justice in 2015 came as an unpleasant surprise. Even more shocking was what happened next: Jarosław Kaczyński’s party started taking over all state institutions. It suppressed the media and launched a controversial “reform” of the judiciary. How was this illiberal turn possible after decades of democratic development? Has Poland cut itself off from the pro-European path, or is the Law and Justice government a passing episode in the country’s history? Written by a leading Polish political commentator, this book traces the country’s transformation over the past thirty years, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the government response to the refugee crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It also reaches back further into the past, analysing the current situation in terms of a “post-traumatic” reaction to centuries of statelessness. Familiarising readers with the latest developments in Europe’s largest illiberal democracy, The new politics of Poland provides lessons for other countries experiencing the rise of populist right-wing movements.

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